PSL: The unique charm of the Quetta Gladiators

Updated 07 Feb 2017

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With Sir Vivian Richards on their side, it does not come as a surprise that Quetta has punched above its weight. — Photo courtesy Quetta Gladiators
With Sir Vivian Richards on their side, it does not come as a surprise that Quetta has punched above its weight. — Photo courtesy Quetta Gladiators

The first week of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) came to a rollicking end as Lahore Qalandars finally turned on the style to end Quetta Gladiators' unbeaten run in the tournament on Monday.

But on evidence of the eight non-stop matches so far, it is clear the Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi are the two sides to beat in the PSL.

The charge of the Gladiators has been particularly refreshing considering how Karachi Kings, Islamabad United and Peshawar had dominated the pre-tournament headlines.

There are several factors why the Sarfraz Ahmed-led Gladiators have captured the imagination.

'King Richards: What more could you ask for?

With Sir Vivian Richards on their side, it does not come as a surprise that Quetta has punched above its weight. Fit as ever, the West Indian great is no doubt an inspiration to those sharing the dug out with him.

But what's more fascinating is the way opposition camps have reacted to his presence. It's almost like all the players in the league want to impress him.

It was interesting to note what commentator Ramiz Raja revealed during one of Quetta's matches. According to Raja, Imran Khan especially invited 'The King' to the Pakistan dressing room to have a chat with boys before their crucial 1992 World Cup match against Australia.

His brief speech set Pakistan on course, Raja said.

Kevin Pietersen: The captain's captain

The on-field interactions between Sarfraz and KP have been a treat to watch. On many occasions Pietersen has directed traffic and it's great to see the pariah of England cricket play such an important role on the cricket field.

He has appeared the most motivated out of all the imports in the PSL and it wouldn't be a surprise if KP is officially handed the reigns in the next season.

Mohammad Nawaz: Not just a bowler

Nawaz may be the highest wicket-taker of the PSL with 8 scalps in four games, but it is his sound technique with the bat which is cause for real celebration.

In Nawaz, Pakistan may have a genuine all-rounder who is 'proper' in all aspects of his game.

What's more he's a left-handed batsman who is aesthetically pleasing and can hit the big shots as well.

Pakistan haven't had that for a long, long time now.

Sarfraz Ahmed: Throwback to Miandad

In the mountainous chase of 195 against Lahore, Quetta lost Ahmed Shehzad, Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen inside the powerplay. Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz then combined in a 74-run partnership, 20 of which came off Hammad Azam's bowling.

The highlight of the 41-ball stand was, however, Sarfraz's improvisations and daredevil running between the wickets.

Commentator Alan Wilkins was forced to concede that Sarfraz had brought back memories of the great Javed Miandad with his street smarts.

The 28-year-old is giving the national selectors a serious tap for when captain Shahid Afridi walks away from the T20 game.

The unique charm of Nabi and Chigumbura

Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi and Zimbabwe's Elton Chigumbura may not be the most well-known names in international cricket but Quetta has ensured they haven't picked players for star value,

Nabi and Chigumbura are the backbone of their national sides and appear to be gelling fast into a Quetta side which is less flash and more hard work.

“If the two or three things Pietersen said, two or three things Viv Richards told me, if I can take those to the youngsters and share them, it would only help Afghanistan cricket,” Nabi said in an interview with Cricinfo last week.

It sums up precisely why the PSL can actually be a meaningful league unlike the slam-bang affairs that T20 tournaments have become. It also makes Quetta the team to follow in the tournament.

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