Babar Azam and Mohammad Hasnain remained the top performers in the sixth edition of the T20 which was suspended because of the coronavirus
These days there is no hot topic around the world except for the global coronavirus outbreak. Thousands are dead and hundreds of thousands are bed ridden because of this disease.
Coronavirus not only damaged the world economy badly, but also the social life. Sports have also suffered. All major sporting events have been stopped.
Initially a few games were played without fans, but later they were stopped altogether. The events included Masters Golf tournament, the PGA Tour, Boston Marathon, the NBA, the NHL, MLS, Major League Baseball, the Premier Soccer League in England, Formula One in Australia and cricket series between Australia and New Zealand, and England tour to Sri Lanka.
The fifth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) also got postponed. The decision came just hours before semi-finals.
The decision to postpone the PSL 2020 due to coronavirus should be hailed as people’s health comes first.
The PSL was the only major cricket tournaments that continued despite the global spread of the deadly virus.
Overall the PSL was fantastic. It was the first edition that was completely played in Pakistan. Spectators enjoyed every game on their soil and supported their favourite team.
Quetta Gladiators, the defending champions, failed to continue their winning streak and remained unsuccessful in their effort to qualify for the last-four stage. This is the first time that they have not progressed beyond the league matches.
In their last game, Quetta needed 151 in 3.2 overs to displace Peshawar Zalmi from the fourth spot; they chased down the target of 187 in 16.2 overs but finished fifth on the points table.
The change of coach did not help Islamabad United. After their below-par performance, the decision to replace Dean Jones with Misbah-ul-Haq was widely criticised by experts and Islamabad team lovers.
Jones had been coaching Islamabad United since the inaugural season of the PSL and had led the team to two PSL titles. The former Australian batsman spent four years with the franchise.
Islamabad United finished sixth in this edition with seven points. The Shadab Khan-led team won only three matches and lost five. One of their games was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Karachi Kings have never been able to lift the PSL trophy, but made it to the playoffs in every season. Dean Jones replaced Mickey Arthur as their head coach.
The combination of former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, who joined as president, and Dean Jones was a morale booster for Karachi Kings.
Karachi skipper Imad Wasim led his team from the front. He scored 121 runs in six innings at an average of 30.25 with a strike rate of 127.36. He also took five wickets.
Multan Sultan remained on top with six wins in 10 matches.
Karachi Kings and Lahore Qualandars won five matches each, while Peshawar Zalmi secured fourth position.
Lahore Qalandars made the playoffs for the first time in PSL history. This has been a closely contested league. The battle for the last-four spots ended only in the last match of the group phase.
Lahore's entry into the playoffs is mostly due to Australia’s Chris Lynn and Ben Dunk who played some outstanding innings for Qalandars.
The semi-finals between Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi and Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars were scheduled on March 17, but had to be postponed following the revelation that an overseas cricketer had shown symptoms of the virus.
It was not a high-scoring tournament. Only twice did teams reach the 200-run mark. Lahore Qalandars’ 209-5 against Quetta Gladiators in Lahore was the highest team total in the tournament. Karachi Kings were the only others to do that — they scored 201-4 against Peshawar Zalmi in Karachi.
World No 1 Babar Azam remained the most successful batsman of the PSL fifth edition with 345 runs in 10 matches, averaging 49.28.
Lynn was the highest scorer among foreign players with 284 runs in eight appearances. His average was 40.57. Most importantly, his strike rate was 179.14. His unbeaten 113 from 55 balls in the last league match helped his team make it to the playoffs.
Islamabad United skipper Shadab proved himself a batting all-rounder in the league with 263 runs at an average of 37.57 and strike rate of 159.39.
In many games Shadab moved himself up the order to help his team post a competitive total or chase down a big score. Shadab remained the highest wicket-taker and the second-highest run-getter for his franchise.
Many players, including Haider Ali of Peshawar, Lahore skipper Sohail Akhtar and Khushdil Shah of Multan, showed their skills with their consistent performances. These batsmen could be the future of Pakistan.
Although Quetta Gladiators failed to qualify for the semi-finals, their young fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain was the most successful bowler of the tournament with 15 wickets in 9 matches at an average of 19.13.
Lahore Qalandars’ Shaheen Shah Afridi is behind him with 13 wickets, averaging 18.92. Both the quicks ripped the top order of the opposing
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