The 8th edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League is starting to reach its climax. With each side having played almost half of its games, the race to make it to the playoffs is heating up. So far, it has been yet another remarkable season of PSL where we have witnessed new records being set up and personal milestones being achieved. But for some players, things have not quite worked out the way they had hoped for.
Players with a below-par season
As always, the HBL PSL has brought forward young and exciting new players into the limelight. The likes of Mirza Tahir Baig, Saim Ayub, Haseebullah Khan, and Ihsanullah have been a revelation this season. But some players have not had the best of times on the field. For some reason, these individuals have failed to perform according to their usual standards. Let’s go through some of the Pakistan players who have had a below-par season so far.
Shadab Khan has been going through a rough patch. He has picked up only six wickets in the tournament and has been conceding plenty of runs lately. Apart from his bowling, his batting performances also have met below-par season. In recent seasons, Shadab had promoted himself up the batting order and had showcased his power-hitting skills. Last season he scored 268 runs for Islamabad United at a strike rate of 162.42.
But this season, he has just scored 20 runs and has reached the double figures only once. The 24-year-old came into the tournament with the back of a finger injury that he sustained in Australia while playing for Hobart Hurricanes in the 2022-2023 Big Bash League. That could explain the recent dip in his performance. But he is a star player, and it won’t be long before he is back to his best.
The hard-hitting batter made headlines before the start of the tournament when he was traded with Babar Azam by Karachi Kings. The 22-year-old burst onto the scene in the 5th edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League by scoring 239 runs at a strike rate of 157.23 while playing for Peshawar Zalmi. His explosive batting earned him a spot in the Pakistan national team setup. Although he did make a decent start to his international career, he has not been able to fulfil his potential.
It was expected that a change of teams and the coaching staff would help to bring out the best in him. But unfortunately, that has not been the case. He has really struggled to put in consistent performances. Haider must be aware of the fact that time is running out for him, and he really needs to put in more effort to turn around his below-par season.
The stylish left-handed batter had a stellar 2022 year. His consistent performances in the County Championship, Vitality Blast and the PSL earned him a spot in Pakistan’s T20I squad as the national team selectors looked to address the team’s batting woes ahead of the 2022 T20 World Cup. He was the 3rd highest run scorer in the last edition of the PSL, where he scored 478 runs at a strike rate of 138.15.
But Shan has really struggled with the bat in this edition of PSL. He has 137 runs to his name at a strike rate of 120.17. He really needs to up his game as young guns like Muhammad Haris, Saim Ayub, and Mirza Tahir Baig are waiting in the wings to take his spot in the national team.
Also See: Saim Ayub Rise to Stardom: A Journey of Passion, Talent, and Dedication
Babar Azam is, without a doubt, one of the best batters in the game right now. He has left the fans in awe wherever he has batted around the world. But at the same time, he has had a fair share of critics, who are ready to pounce whenever he is slightly off-colour. Such has been the case this season for Babar Azam. The 28-year-old has scored 178 runs so far at a strike rate of 128.05. He has two fifty-plus scores to his name, with one of them being in a losing cause.
These are decent stats for an opener, but by his standards, they are below par. So, he has been feeling a bit of heat. But he has been in this situation before, and he knows how to fight his way back up and silence his critics.
Iftikhar Ahmed created plenty of hype before the start of the tournament when he smashed Wahab Riaz for six sixes in an over in an exhibition match. The 33-year-old was also heading into the new PSL season at the back of an extraordinary Bangladesh Premier League campaign where he scored 351 runs at an average of 58.5, which also included a 45 ball hundred against Rangpur Riders.
But unfortunately, he has failed to replicate his performances in this edition of the PSL. There have been a couple of games where he has managed to showcase his big-hitting prowess. But he has been very inconsistent and has only managed to score 130 runs at a strike rate of 125 so far. He needs to turn around his below-par season as Quetta Gladiators look to make a late surge for the playoff spots.
Cricket is indeed a cruel game at times. As long as you are performing for the team, the world is at your feet, but if you go through a few bad games all of a sudden, the critics forget about the past and start pointing fingers at you. But it is never too late. You can always turn around your fortunes as long as you work hard and have confidence in your abilities.