Lahore Qalandars etched their name in history by clinching back-to-back Pakistan Super League (PSL) championships. While the victory belongs to them, several players across various teams demonstrated commendable efforts despite falling short in their pursuits. Here are six standout performers from this edition, who can reflect with pride on their individual achievements within the tournament.
Shaheen Shah Afridi: A Captivating Leader and All-Rounder
Shaheen Shah Afridi’s distinction as the first captain to lift the Pakistan Super League trophy twice speaks volumes about his remarkable leadership and cricketing prowess. His consecutive triumphs as captain, propelling Lahore to become the inaugural champions to defend their title, is a truly extraordinary feat. At the age of just 22, Afridi’s dominance is even more impressive. His unwavering performances seem to underscore that this is unequivocally his domain, and the rest of us are merely inhabitants. Beyond his bowling excellence, Afridi has embraced a new facet to his game by venturing into all-round contributions. His unbeaten 44 off 15 deliveries and four wickets in the final exemplify this evolution. His explosive innings galvanized his team, elevating their total to 200 when a lesser score seemed probable. Notably, he also registered the best-ever figures in a PSL final with the ball.
Muhammad Rizwan: Resolute Leader and Consistent Scorer
Muhammad Rizwan’s journey in the PSL has been one of consistent progression. After emerging as the second-highest run-scorer in the previous two editions, Rizwan ascended to the summit this time. Leading Multan Sultans, his team encountered heartbreak in two final losses against Lahore Qalandars. Rizwan’s resilience is evident in his run tally—500 or more runs in each of the last three PSL editions under his captaincy. This achievement gains significance considering that all other batsmen combined over eight editions have matched Rizwan’s three-edition feat. While a regrettable dismissal in the final could have altered the outcome, his inspiring contributions as both a batsman and a captain carried Multan to their third consecutive final appearance under his guidance.
Babar Azam: Undisputed Dominance in PSL Batting
Babar Azam, the skipper of Pakistan’s cricket team, reigns supreme atop the PSL batting records. His phenomenal accumulation of 2,935 runs places him significantly ahead, with a lead of over 500 runs from the second-placed Fakhar Zaman, who has 2,368 runs. This season, Babar’s determination to make an impact was evident after his departure from Karachi Kings, which raised questions about his leadership and batting abilities. Babar’s bat answered with resounding authority, amassing 522 runs. Notably, this tally overshadowed the combined efforts of Shoaib Malik (200) and Haider Ali (109), who were brought in by Karachi Kings as his replacements. Babar achieved this with a better strike rate than his counterparts, thus silencing doubts raised by his former franchise. The stark divergence in fortunes between Babar’s new team and his former one must have served as further validation of his form and leadership, as Peshawar progressed to the tournament’s second eliminator while Karachi Kings faced an early exit for the second consecutive year.