After 4 consecutive successful years of Pakistan Super League, The Pakistan Cricket Board brought back its fourth season of Pakistan Super League 2019, or for sponsorship reference, it also is known as HBL PSL.
Looking back at the 4 years of good quality cricket put up that brought pure contentment to fans worldwide is quite amusing. The league transitioned from stationing its matches to an overseas stadium to bringing international cricket home and reviving the spirit of cricket, from foreign players withdrawing from the matches due to security reasons to the entire squad showing up for the playoffs and finals and thoroughly enjoying it. PSL has evolved greatly. It even experienced its first expansion since the initiation of the league in 2015, when a new team was added, ‘Multan Sultans,’ making the 5 team contest to 6.
Following a similar trait as of the 2018 PSL, there were still a few significant changes. Instead of only the playoffs being played in Pakistan, eight matches were scheduled along with the final, alternating between Lahore and Karachi. The sponsorship contract with extended for an additional three years, up until 2021, while the franchise rights and agreement to Schon properties (ex-owner of Multan Sultans) were dissolved and terminated. Ali Khan Tareen, son of a business tycoon, Jahangir Khan Tareen.
Unlike previous seasons, for the first time, Islamabad city, too, was part of the Pakistan Super League location line-up. The player’s draft for the Pakistan Super League 2019 was scheduled in Islamabad on November 20, 2018. More than 630 players were included in the draft, which was more in number than it had ever been. Each team had to choose 16 players and 4 supplementary. In September trade and retention started amongst the teams. 89 Pakistani players were categorized into the five main categories, being; Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver and Emerging. While towards the start of October 14 overseas players of platinum category were announced. The trade and retention window ended on November 13, 2018.
Sohail Tanvir: The left-arm spinner was transferred from Multan Sultan to Quetta Gladiators in exchange for a diamond player pick.
Sunil Narine & Umar Akmal: The windies bowler and the iconic batsmen were transferred from the Lahore qalandars to Quetta Gladiators in exchange for Hasan Khan, Rahat Ali and a platinum category player.
On November 13, 2018, after the retention and trading window was closed. PSL announced the retained players for the six teams. A total of 51 players were held back by each team from the previous seasons, which were as follows. (Platinum= (P), Diamond= (D), Gold= (G), Silver= (S), Emerging= (E)
Luke Ronchi (P), Shadab Khan (P), Faheem Ashraf (P), Asif Ali (D), Mohammad Sami (D), Rumman Raees (G), Hussain Talat (S), Waqas Maqsood (S), (Sahibzada Farhan (S), Zafar Gohar (S).
Fakhar Zaman (P), Yasir Shah (D), Anton Devcich (G), Rahat Ali (G), Shaheen Afridi (S), Agha Salman (S), Sohail Akhtar (S), Hasan Khan (S).
Colin Munro (P), Mohammad Amir (P), Babar Azam (P), Colin Ingram (D), Imad Wasim (D), Usman Khan Shinwari (D), Mohammad Rizwan (G), Ravi Bopara (G).
Wahab Riaz (P), Hasan Ali (P), Darren Sammy (D), Kamran Akmal (D), Liam Dawson (G), Umaid Asif (S), Khalid Usman (S), Sameen Gul (E).
Shoaib Malik (P), Junaid Khan (D), Mohammad Irfan (D), Shan Masood (G), Mohammad Abbas (S), Umar Siddiq (S), Mohammad Junaid (E).
Sarfaraz Ahmed (P), Sunil Narine (P), Shane Watson [Mentor(D)], Sohail Tanvir (D), Muhammad Nawaz (D), Rilee Rossouw (G), Umar Akmal (G), Anwar Ali (S), Saud Shakeel (S).
The PCB officials in mid of 2018 decided how having a full league in Pakistan would be fruitful. However, the new PCB chairman, Ehsan Mani announced in September that the fourth edition of the league would start from February 14, 2019, in UAE and the last eight matches would be played in Pakistan while the final would be played in Karachi on March 17, 2019, similarly as done so in 2018. First time in PSL history, four matches of the league were played in Abu Dhabi instead of the usual Dubai and Sharjah. 3/8 matches had to be played in Lahore, but due to operational technicalities in the closing of airspace and rising tensions between the arch neighbors, Pakistan, and India, the matches were shifted to Karachi instead, which was a ‘critical’ move as was stated by the new PCB chairman. Matches were played in; Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and Karachi. Lahore was unfortunately off the charts for this season.
The opening ceremony of Pakistan Super League 2019 was held at the Dubai International cricket stadium on February 14, hours before the first match of the league. The event had some star-studded performances that blew the crowd away. From a take by Aima Baig and Shuja Haider on traditional songs sung by the legendary duo, Nazia Hassan and Zohaib Hassan, to Boney M performing her latest songs, to the crowd being swiped away by some magical performances by Junoon, the band, to marching bands putting up a beautiful work of art and some patriotic anthems sung of the UAE and Pakistan. Of course, Pakistan Super League anthems were also sung by Fawad Khan and the previous ones by Ali Zafar. The night ended with some electrifying fireworks.
Two-time PSL winners, Islamabad united were surely the most successful teams in PSL history as they were the only team to secure two titles. The team was captained by a fast bowler, Mohammad Sami, but due to his injury, he was replaced by Shadab Khan. Islamabad United finished third in the league after winning six matches from twelve played.
Karachi Kings were the talk of the season in 2018. However, the team was unable to give out their best despite their strong team selection. The team was captained by Imad Wasim and was only able to win 5 matches out of 11 played.
Multan Sultans were one of the poorest of the teams out there this year. Though their debut season was quite interesting to watch, the team managed to finish 5th in their second season after winning only 3 matches out of 10 played thus were unable to even qualify for the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Quetta has finally crowned champions for the first time ever in PSL history. Despite their constant struggle and dedication, the team was often one of the finalists but never made it to the finish line until 2019. The team was coached by Moin Khan, Captained by Sarfaraz Ahmed and mentored by Australian cricketer, Shane Watson. They finished second in their group stage matches by winning seven out of ten matches played. Ultimately Quetta defeated Peshawar by eight wickets to claim their title.
It was unfortunate to note that Lahore Qalandars did not do well even in their fourth season. They were definitely the poorest team out there in terms of performance after they were eliminated due to topping the points table… that is if you held it upside down. They were in 6th place and therefore made it unable for them to qualify for the playoffs along with Multan Sultans.
Peshawar Zalmi was one of the leading teams of the season, which is no surprise. They were runner-ups of the Pakistan Super League 2019, similarly as they were in 2018. Zalmi had the same captain as of previous seasons, Darren Sammy and was coached by Mohammad Akram. Though they finished first in their group stage matches by winning seven out of ten matches played, they finally lost to Quetta Gladiators in the final match.
The closing ceremony of Pakistan Super League 2019 was held in national stadium Karachi on March 17 and was hosted by renowned Pakistani host, Fakhar-e-Alam. The crowd as asked to observe a one-minute silence in respect of the Christchurch mosque shootings and was then followed by a series of fantastic performances. Aima Baig, Sahir Ali Bagga, Shuja Haider, Junoon, Abrar ul Haq, and Fawad Khan all sung some of their iconic songs while others sang their reprises. Famous personalities, including the Chief Minister of Sindh, Governor Sindh, Chief of Army Staff, and Carlos Puyol (Spanish footballer) was among those that were spotted in the crowd.
Final Match Summary
Quetta Gladiators won the toss and elected to field first. For the first innings, Peshawar Zalmi had lost its early wickets as both openers Kamran Akmal, and Imam ul Haq were dismissed by the fourth over. Umar Amin and Sohaib Maqsood had added some score to the total by adding 31 runs. Wahab Riaz and Darren Sammy scored an additional 28 runs by the seventh wicket. The newcomer Mohammad Hasnain of Quetta Gladiators managed to give away merely 30 runs in 4 overs for 3 wickets. Zalmi’s final score was 138-8 in 20 overs.
Quetta Gladiators was able to achieve its target of 139 runs in just 17.5 overs. Opener Ahmed Shehzad played brilliantly by scoring 58 runs off of 51 balls, while Quetta lost two crucial wickets of Shane Watson (run out) and Ahsan Ali, who too managed to score 25 off of 18 but was soon dismissed by Wahab Riaz. The undefeated partnership between Ahmed Shehzad and Rilee Rossouw gave Quetta. It’s a long-awaited well-deserved win as they beat Zalmi by eight wickets. Youngster, Mohammad Hasnain, was given the title of Man of the Match.
Player of the tournament & Best Batsmen- Shane Watson of Quetta Gladiators had been given both these titles as he scored 430 runs in just 12 matches.
Best bowler- Hasan Ali of Peshawar Zalmi, the generator managed to bag 25 wickets, which was most wickets taken by ANY player in PSL history.
Safe Hands-Luke Ronchi of Islamabad United won the safe hands award as he dismissed 11 batsmen behind the stumps due to his iconic catches.
Best all-rounder – Kieron Pollard of Peshawar Zalmi, was an outstanding lad on the field, overall. He managed to make 284 runs (13 sixes), took 5 wickets, and dismissed 10 batsmen in the outfield.
Emerging player- Umer Khan of Karachi Kings managed to grab 15 wickets in just 11 matches played and was the 4th highest wicket-taker in the fourth edition of the league. He dismissed legends like AB de Villers, Shane Watson, and Luke Ronchi.
Spirit of Cricket- Islamabad United won this award for the second consecutive year as their love for cricket, passion, and enthusiasm was constantly being reflected as they played on, which gave them a well-deserved win like the last year.
So far, all seasons of the Pakistan Super League have proved to be successful up until today. The transition of the league and the expansions surely proves the statement of the PCB secretariat, who claimed that the league was getting bigger and better with time. That being said, let’s see how this year’s (2020) edition of the league follows.