The Karachi leg of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2022 is over, which means we’re halfway through the longstanding quest of holding a complete and uninterrupted PSL in the country it bears the name of.
With the Lahori brethren eagerly waiting to give the tournament a greater reception than their port city rivals did, this is an apt time to look back at who the best performers are up until this point.
Below, we’ve highlighted a group of five that outperformed all others while the tournament was still in Karachi.
5- Imran Tahir
The man who was born in the 70s, has a bowling action of the 80s, spent the 90s and 2000s toiling in domestic doldrums, but shone like it’s nobody’s business in the 2010s, is somehow still relevant in 2020s.
He will be 43 next month and yet his game, his enthusiasm and his ability to deceive batters are showing no signs of ageing.
Multan Sultans had let go both Usman Qadir and Shahid Afridi in the offseason, leading to some concerns if Imran Tahir would be able to shoulder the spin burden alone. He laid those concerns to rest, played all five matches of the Karachi leg and picked up 10 wickets in the process.
What’s more impressive is that nine of his 10 wickets came in bunches of three, which means he was a threat pretty much all through those quintets of games. And none of those were garbage wickets collected when the match was practically won and the tail was out. In fact, the lowest batter he dismissed was Quetta’s number seven Mohammad Nawaz, who we know is no slouch with the bat.
The man just does not age. Is he a vampire then? Perhaps, he dyes his hair blonde to hide a secret.
4- Tim David
This time last year, few in T20 cricket knew the name of Tim David. His name was unremarkable and the fact that he represents Singapore at international level made him even more forgettable on paper.
But Lahore Qalandars, the franchise known for its scouting, saw beyond the paper and probably got mesmerised by the 6’5 frame of this man mountain. They took a chance on him and he was arguably their best batter in that campaign, which raised his profile and got him T20 gigs all through the year.
It’s surprising then that Lahore let him leave, but as they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure as it has been for Multan — as it often is for them actually (read Mohammad Rizwan).
David has been colossal for Multan coming in at number four and five. In just five outings for a team whose top order barely leaves any overs for later batsmen, David has scored 163 runs at an astonishing strike rate of 211.68 and has hit 15 sixes — joint highest with his captain Rizwan.
On top of it, he has taken four catches, one of which was an incredible effort at the boundary that won them the game against Quetta.
3- Shan Masood
This list was open to the entire league but we realise now that it’s fast becoming a Multan-only puff piece but we assure you that it’s not on purpose. Such has been the defending champions’ consistent brilliance so far this season that a majority of the top performers are Multan players.
This one is totally unexpected though because when you think of Shan Masood, you think of a Test opener who has a lot of cautious style but none of the devastating essence needed for T20 cricket.
Let’s purge that perception right out of your minds because Masood, on current form, is the second-best batter in PSL 2022 and even edges opening partner Mohammad Rizwan in each and every major statistical category.
Shan has 275 runs to Rizwan’s 215, averages 55 compared to Rizwan’s 53.75 and even boasts a greater strike rate of 151.09 to Rizwan’s 138.70. But more astonishingly, he even has more sixes.
Now we’ve seen everything!
2- Fakhar Zaman
Fakhar Zaman used to have a diesel engine — one that took its time to rev up. This PSL though he’s been a cross between a Tesla Model S Plaid — hitting zero to a hundred in the blink of an eye — with all the reliability of a Soviet era Lada.
This left-handed drive has been a juggernaut this PSL so far and has amassed a massive 356 runs in just five matches at an almost unbelievable average of 71.2 and strike rate of a whopping 173.65.
But more importantly, he has not failed even once. In fact, his lowest score has been 38, which probably is not even the highest for a vast majority of PSL batters.
Let’s cut short this waxing lyrical before we jinx it.
1- Shadab Khan
Most standouts in T20 leagues either plunder runs or collect scalps. No one does both at a high level, which is why Shadab Khan’s PSL 2022 deserves special attention.
The 23-year-old from Mianwali is four clear at the top of the bowling chart with 14 wickets to his name and seventh on the top scorers’ list, with a total of 186 runs in four outings. His average of 46.5 is supplemented by a strike rate of 182.35, while he has hit 15 sixes as mentioned above — the joint highest tally so far.
In his last three matches, he has a five-for and two four-fors, which is a ridiculous series of bowling statlines and might not have been done before in any top league ever.
If the PSL were to end today (God forbid/theoretically/for argument’s sake), there is no doubt that Shadab would be the player of the tournament.