PSL 2023 Review: 7 talking points from the 8th edition of HBL PSL

The 8th edition of the HBL PSL concluded on Sunday night with Lahore Qalandars being the deserved winners. The Qalandars defeated Multan Sultans by one run in the final.

Review of the 8th edition of HBL PSL

By defeating Multan Sultans in the final, Lahore Qalandars created history by becoming the only PSL side to win back-to-back PSL titles. It was yet another scintillating season of HBL PSL with new records being set up and personal milestones being achieved. Here are some of the talking points from the 8th edition of HBL PSL.

Shaheen proves his mettle

Before the start of the tournament, some questions were being raised about Shaheen’s fitness as he was recovering from an ankle injury that he sustained in the final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022. But the 22-year-old put to bed all those doubts by depicting a match-winning performance for his side in the opening game. His economical spell and lethal death bowling were vital in securing a one-run victory for the Qalandars against Multan Sultans.

Since that opening game, Shaheen did not look back and kept on getting stronger and stronger as the tournament progressed. His 19 wickets were instrumental in securing the title for Lahore Qalandars, including a man-of-the-match performance in the final. Apart from that, Shaheen has really matured as a captain in this edition of PSL. Being the captain of a T20 franchise is never an easy task, as you have to lead a diverse group of individuals and bring the best out of them. But Shaheen has made that job look quite easy and has led his side from the front. He has now won the title for Qalandars not once, but twice.

Rawalpindi’s pitch concerns

The batting standards in the 8th edition of HBL PSL have really gone up a few notches. All four venues have yielded high-scoring games. But the Rawalpindi pitch has proven to be a real batting paradise. In 12 out of 20 innings, the teams have managed to cross the 200-run barrier. Also, the record for the highest run aggregate in a T20 match was broken on this Rawalpindi pitch, as 515 runs were scored in the match between Multan Sultans and Quetta Gladiators.

Such high-scoring matches have raised a few questions about the condition of Rawalpindi’s pitch. But this is not the first time that Rawalpindi’s pitch has been scrutinized. Last year a demerit point was awarded to this pitch, in the 1st Test match, when Pakistan hosted Australia. And more recently the pitch received another demerit point in the 1st Test match between Pakistan and England, but it was eventually overturned.

The high-scoring games in this year’s PSL have been a great watch for the fans, but PCB needs to make sure that the pitch complies with international standards to avoid any sort of penalty in the future.

Questions surrounding Shadab’s form

Shadab Khan is one of the marquee players of not only Pakistan but Islamabad United as well. He introduced himself to the cricketing world by showing consistence performances for Islamabad United in the 2016-17 edition of PSL. And since then, he has developed himself into a formidable allrounder and an inspirational captain. But this season his performances have been below-par.

The 22-year-old has only picked up 12 wickets this campaign and his bowling has been a bit expensive. In recent PSL seasons, Shadab’s batting prowess has really come to the forefront. But he has only managed to score 135 runs at a strike rate of 142.10 this season. Although these are decent numbers for an all-rounder, they are not up to his usual standards.

The drop in his performance could be attributed to the fact that he was making a comeback, into this tournament, from a finger injury that he sustained while playing in the Big Bash League earlier this year. But anyways he is surely a star player who would be eager to return to his best as he leads a new-look Pakistan side in the T20I series against Afghanistan.

Imad shows his worth

Before the start of the 8th edition of HBL PSL, a lot of headlines were made by the Karachi Kings as they swapped Babar Azam with Haider Ali and Shoaib Malik of Peshawar Zalmi. As Babar departed, Imad Wasim took over the Karachi King’s captaincy. As a result, he found himself at the center of PSL fans’ attention. A few controversial remarks were also shared by Imad regarding some former Karachi Kings players in the build-up to this year’s PSL.  

But Imad made sure that he let his bat do the talking as well. The 34-year-old showcased his power-hitting skills throughout the 8th edition of HBL PSL. He scored 404 runs at a blistering strike rate of 170.46. His all-around performances were the only shining light from a miserable Karachi Kings’ PSL campaign. The allrounder has been named in the Pakistan squad for the T20I series against Afghanistan. He can prove to be a decent option, down the order, for Pakistan as the preparations for the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023 begin.

See Also: Imad vs Nawaz: Who should be in starting eleven?

Babar’s Batting debate

Babar Azam is without a doubt one of the best T20 batters in the world right now. He has been among the runs wherever he has batted around the globe. But he is often criticized for the way he scores those runs. Such has been the case in the 8th edition of HBL PSL. The all-time leading run scorer in PSL history was once again among the top run scorers this season.

The 28-year-old finished in the second spot by scoring 522 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 145.40. This included five fifties and a hundred. These are extraordinary numbers for any batter. But once again, Babar found himself in the firing line whenever Peshawar Zalmi finished on the losing side. It appears the debate involving Babar Azam’s batting is a never-ending one, but one thing is for certain, he is a quality batter who possesses the most handsome-looking cover drive shot. And he has got the stats that back that claim.

The future looks bright for Pakistan Cricket Team

Having a T20 franchise league is a great asset for any country. It is an ideal platform for young players to groom their skills and learn from some of the renowned foreign players from all over the world. As always, a few young players have caught the eye of cricketing fans in this year’s PSL.

The emergence of Saim Ayub, Ihsanullah, Abbas Afridi, Haseebullah Khan, and Mirza Tahir Baig has really been the highlight of the 8th edition of HBL PSL. They have been the breakthrough stars of this season. Furthermore, players like Muhammad Haris and Azam Khan, who have some international experience under their belt have also been a revelation this season. All these players have shown great potential and could prove to be a great asset for the Pakistan Cricket Team in the years to come.

Abbas Afridi – The unsung hero

Ihsanullah and Abbas Afridi have been the finds of the 8th edition of HBL PSL. Both have been exceptional this season for the Multan Sultans. Abbas finished the PSL season as the highest wicket-taker with 23 scalps to his name. Whereas Ihsanullah finished in the second spot with 22 wickets.

But Ihsanullah seems to be getting most of the praise for his bowling display. As is evident from the fact that Ihsanullah got shortlisted for Pakistan’s T20I squad for the series against Afghanistan, while Abbas Afridi missed out. Abbas might not be as quick as Ihsanullah, but he has certainly got a decent bouncer up his sleeve that has troubled a few batters this season. Anyways, both are quality bowlers who are equally capable of doing wonders for the Pakistan cricket team in the future.

The 8th edition of the HBL PSL concluded in the same fashion as it started, with Lahore Qalandars defeating the Multan Sultans by a narrow margin of one run. As always cricket fans around the world were enthralled by the standard of cricket being played at the PSL. Pakistan Cricket Board certainly has a lot of positives to take from this year’s HBL PSL.

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