The first week of the 2019 edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has come to a conclusion with a total of seven matches being played at Dubai.
All six teams have been in action with the PSL once again serving up some breathtaking T20 cricket.
There has been no shortage of entertainment with the very best of Pakistan on display along with a strew of international stars.
At the end of a week which has set the tone perfectly for the rest of the season, we look at the key takeaways.
YOUNG PAKISTAN TALENT CONTINUES TO THRIVE
Since its inception in 2016, the PSL has served up plenty of future stars with the likes of Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Shaheen Afridi being prime examples.
The 2019 edition has been no different in that regard with several youngsters catching the eye. Lahore Qalandars’ pacer Haris Rauf is turning out to be an excellent find for the franchise with a match-winning display of 4-23 against the formidable Karachi Kings.
Apart from Rauf, young Umer Khan has been brilliant in his two games so far for Karachi with the left-arm spinner going at less than six runs an over while picking up three huge wickets including that of AB de Villiers. Similarly, Ali Shafiq and Ibtisam Sheikh have impressed for Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi respectively with the former picking up 2-11 against Islamabad while the latter returned with 2-14 against Lahore.
Full credit to Lahore Qalandars for unearthing a talent like Haris Rauf. A player who is entirely their product. Before playing for Lahore, he had not played any cricket at a professional level. What a find. #KhelDeewanoKa— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) February 16, 2019
OLD IS GOLD
While T20 may be seen as a young man’s game, week one in the PSL has shown that there is no substitute for experience. Be it 44-year-old Misbah-ul-Haq turning on the style in his Peshawar Zalmi debut or Shahid Afridi putting in an all-round display, the older heads have come to the fore for their respective sides.
While Misbah and Afridi have continued to prove that age is just a number, the likes of Shane Watson and Luke Ronchi have also shown the value of experience with their performances. 37-year-old Watson started off slowly but looked near unstoppable in his 55-ball 81 against Islamabad.
Ronchi, meanwhile, has continued from where he left off in the third edition for Islamabad where he finished as the highest run-scorer with two excellent displays against Multan and Karachi Kings.
Youngsters may continue to rule the roost in T20 cricket but teams should discount the veterans at their own peril.
BATTING COLLAPSES GALORE
The Pakistan national team’s penchant for dramatic batting collapses on the international stage is well known and that notorious habit has seeped into the PSL as well. The first week of the tournament was characterised by teams collapsing with the bat after getting off to excellent starts.
The tone was set from the tournament opener itself where Lahore Qalandars raced away to 129-1 against Islamabad United at the end of 13 overs before collapsing to 171-8 in their 20 overs.
The same was seen in the next clash with Karachi Kings putting on a record 157-run stand for the first wicket before losing six wickets for 21 runs against Multan Sultans. It could have something to do with the nature of surfaces in the UAE with run-scoring getting more difficult as the ball becomes older.
While the 2019 PSL kicked off with two high-scoring encounters, the runs have started to dry up. The total of 200 looked to be on the cards early on but late batting collapses has meant that the highest score so far by any team in the first week has been the 183-6 posted by Karachi Kings against Multan Sultans.
Historically, 200-plus totals have been hard to come by in the PSL with only five instances so far in the four editions. Low-scoring ties have already started to become the theme of the fourth edition with Qalandars being bowled out for just 78 runs in the last match.
Once again, it is the slower nature of UAE pitches that might be the biggest contributing factor with the surfaces deteriorating with each passing game. Perhaps a change in scenery to Sharjah could bring about a change in batting fortunes.
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