PSL 2019: Haris Rauf and other young Pakistan stars to impress in week one

Aditya Devavrat 16:41 18/02/2019
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Haris Rauf was the star of the opening weekend. [Image credit: Twitter/@lahoreqalandars]

The 2019 edition of the Pakistan Super League kicked off with a bang, as the opening weekend saw all six teams in action and each one get on the board with at least one win.

In an action-packed weekend, several young Pakistani players caught the eye, with tearaway quick Haris Rauf the breakout star after the opening round of fixtures.

Here’s a look at how he and a few other young guns lit up the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

HARIS RAUF, LAHORE QALANDARS

Haris Rauf entered this edition of the PSL as a player of raw potential, having played club cricket in Australia and last year’s Abu Dhabi T20, but never first-class cricket in Pakistan. After one weekend, he’s being touted as a potential World Cup participant later this year.

All it took was one fiery bowling performance that led Qalandars to a comfortable victory over Karachi when they were defending a below-par total. In a spell where he consistently hit speeds over 145kph, he got Ravi Bopara and Mohammad Rizwan in the space of three deliveries in the 17th over, then came back in the 19th to pick up Imad Wasim and Sohail Khan off consecutive balls to kill the game, ending the innings with figures of 4/23.

Rauf is a find of Lahore’s talent hunt programme, having impressed with his ability to bowl above 150kph, and now he’s beginning to his mark.

UMER KHAN, KARACHI KINGS

Across two games, teenage left-arm spinner Umer Khan has bowled at an economy rate of 5.66 runs per over. Though he’s only picked up three wickets so far, one of those was AB de Villiers, getting the star batsman out cheaply in Karachi’s game against Lahore, a match where Khan also picked ended Sohail Akhtar’s blazing innings at the top of the order.

As things stand, in a bowling line-up that includes Imad Wasim and Sikandar Raza in its spin attack, it’s the 19-year-old Khan who’s leading the wickets column among the spinners, with only Mohammad Amir taking more wickets for Karachi so far.

Khan wasn’t one of Karachi’s original 20 picks for the squad, with the 19-year-old being drafted in thanks to the rule that allows teams to pick a 21st player from their scouting and development programmes. He also wasn’t at the top of the list for emerging spinners in Karachi’s squad – that was 20-year-old Abrar Ahmed. But Ahmed has been struggling for fitness, and Khan has stepped up.

HUSSAIN TALAT, ISLAMABAD UNITED

Hussain Talat made his international debut a year ago, but the 23-year-old is still finding his feet at the top level. So far this season, he’s played two innings of note for Islamabad, helping set up a win against Lahore with a 30-ball 37 after coming in at 49/3 with a middling chase threatening to fall apart. His innings established the foundation for Asif Ali and Faheem Ashraf to finish with a flourish in the victory.

In the next innings, Talat hit an 18-ball 30, reminding everyone how quickly he can score once he gets going. Unfortunately, he couldn’t play a longer innings and set up a win – although that was partially thanks to another top-order failure, as he walked in at 8/3. What could he do if Islamabad’s top three gave him a platform to hit from?

His bowling needs work – so far he’s only bowled the one over, going for 20, and hasn’t been trusted with the ball since. But there are signs that he could be a dangerous player for Islamabad in the right situation.

ALI SHAFIQ, MULTAN SULTANS

Ali Shafiq was one of the stars of Multan’s victory over Islamabad United, with a stunning bowling performance of 2/11 from his four overs helping restrict Islamabad to 125/7. He picked up the dangerous Cameron Delport, dismissing the South African for a duck, and then returned to get Shadab Khan just when the Islamabad captain was threatening to accelerate towards the end.

The match was remembered for Shahid Afridi rolling back the years with an all-around display, but the 22-year-old Shafiq – who didn’t concede a boundary at all during his four overs – was equally impressive. In a pace attack that also includes Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan, the right-arm seamer could end up being a good find this season.

IBTISAM SHEIKH, PESHAWAR ZALMI

Ibtisam Sheikh is back. The 20-year-old leg-spinner caught the eye last season, with a tantalizing spell against Kumar Sangakkara his PSL 2018 highlight, and in his lone game for Peshawar this season, he played his role to perfection.

Peshawar routed Qalandars, bowling them out for 78, and though Pakistan internationals Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz were the ones with the more eye-popping figures, Sheikh’s two wickets in a spell that cost just 14 runs in his four overs ensured Lahore could not mount a comeback after Ali’s opening burst.

Sheikh showed plenty of promise when he bowled last year, and judging by his lone game in PSL 2019 so far, he’s set to make a splash yet again.

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