ISLAMABAD: Former skipper Ramiz Raja said on Thursday that the fifth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) has provided the country with some exciting and breakout batting talent.
“For the past several years we were eager to see whether the PSL would provide the country talent in batting or not. Finally, after four years of hard effort we've found young exciting batting talent,” he said on his YouTube channel ‘Ramiz Speaks’.
He said although PSL five remained incomplete [due to coronavirus outbreak], it was promising as it was full of batting and bowling thrill.
He further said in the tournament there were four to five young batsmen who displayed impressive talent. “I think they are breakout players, who can serve Pakistan very well in the future provided work is done on them and they are taken care of,” the cricketer-turned commentator said.
“Haider Ali (Peshawar Zalmi), Zeeshan Ashraf (Multan Sultans), Azam Khan (Quetta Gladiators) and Khusdil Shah (Multan Sultans) played outstandingly in the tournament and could become world-class articles if proper attention was paid on them,” observed Ramiz.
Haider Ali’s numbers in PSL from the point of view of strike rate are outstanding. But his average is 29, which is not enough for a frontline batsman. That means he will have to bring in consistency. His ideal position to bat is number three as he can play big shots. He does not need to do improvisation as he has quality hits and his power base is so strong that he can even be successful if he keeps on doing normal batting,” wrote Ramiz.
“His best template and reference point is Virat Kohli and Babar Azam, who both have staggering numbers in T20 cricket as they don't do too much improvisation. They both have skills and play such conventional shots, which help them to remain consistent and prove much-winners.”
“Haider Ali is also a talent of that level. He is a natural big hitter and strike force, who only needs to be consistent,” he added.
Ramiz said Zeeshan Ashraf was another impressive young batsman whose take off in PSL was stunning. “He plays openly and freely but skillfully and gives you a left-handed opening option.”
He said if properly work is done, Zeeshan could prove a great asset as he could do pinch hitting and play long innings.
“My next pick is Azam Khan, who has immense batting talent. Clearly, he has to reduce his weight and improve his fitness. But what is impressive about him is his calm demeanour, confidence and the ability to read the situation and then apply himself. He is also not scared of the reputation of a bowler.”
He said being the son of former captain Moeen Khan and Gladiators head coach, Azam had an added pressure which he successfully handled through his performance. At no point [in the event] that extra pressure was evident on his face. He backed himself and played some superb innings in the middle order.
“This was a very difficult position for a young batsman, especially at a time when Gladiators top order was not functioning. The good thing about him was that he played some really big shots, while his defence was also very solid. This shows that he has the ingredients to become a force to reckon with.”
Ramiz expressed the hope that in the next PSL edition, Azam would be a lean machine as that was necessary for his future in cricket.
The erstwhile captain also heaped praises at Khushdil Shah, who scored 175 runs in PSL five with 100 of them coming on sixes and fours. For four times he remained unbeaten in this tournament. He is a God-gifted batsman, who is a natural timer of the ball. He batted down the order but never disappointed his team.
He said Khushdil played some entertaining innings, particularly the one against Lahore Qalandars, who had a very strong fast bowling attack was very impressive. He has good pickup as well as straight shots. The greatest quality of his power hitting is that he smashes straight at the long off and long on. This is what I was eager to see from young Pakistani batsmen for quite some time.
“I feel Pakistan has found a match-winner at the position of number six or seven. Being a left-hander he gives you an advantage as the opposition will have to work hard to bowl such a batsman in the late middle order.”
Ramiz also lauded young Pakistani bowlers stating that added beauty to the tournament. He said five to six bowlers had the capability to bowl at 146km to 147km per hour. From hard length ball to a yorker and from slow bouncer to a hard bouncer they possess all varieties.
“We saw a high velocity, high voltage fast bowling in PSL. These bowlers used variations according to the requirement of the situation. This shows that Pakistans future in fast bowling is fully perfect and filled.”
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2020