Players to watch out for in PSL 4

Pakistan's ordinary outing of South Africa is over and its time for a much needed break from the international arena. The focus has well and truly shifted towards the Pakistan Super League's 4th edition. The PSL keeps going from strength to strength and this season is sure to be a very special one.

PCB is sanguine to get cricket back home and has announced that PSL will spend more time in Pakistan this time - 8 matches. The malign memories of the terrorist attack on Sri Lankan players haunted Pakistan Cricket and fans for a long time, but this platform is providing hope for the arrival of international teams in the country. Cricket superstars like AB de Villiers have put their hand up in this regard and given another reason for fans to adore him.

PSL has been a bowler centric tournament for 3 years as its logo (surprisingly) suggests. The mark of 200 has been crossed only a few times but some batsmen have managed to leave a mark with their willow. In the previous seasons, it was Kamran Akmal and Luke Ronchi who lead the batting charts and Kamran scored the lone century of the 3rd edition. Luke Ronchi was unstoppable last season and scored a quickfire 50 off 19 balls which Kamran Akmal surpassed by 2 balls. Let's take a look at some players to look out for in the 4th edition of this magnificent tournament.

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AB de Villiers

The South African batsman announced his retirement a while ago but was open to playing franchise cricket. He's been an integral part of Royal Challengers Banglore in IPL and the world knows what he's capable of. He's a naturally gifted athlete who can bat at any position in the batting order. Apart from his healthy strike rate and ability to go deep, he plays some mesmerising shots to give fans more to cheer for.

Rightly called as Mr. 360°, he can target any part of the stadium with his versatile hitting. In the recently concluded Mzansi Super League, he hit a total of 282, with highest of 93. As he has played IPL throughout his career, let's take a look at his IPL career.

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Rumman Raees

Rumman was mostly on the bench last season because he suffered a knee injury during fielding. He was one of the three most economical bowlers of the 2nd edition of the PSL (minimum 20 overs bowled). He is renowned for his back of the hand slower balls and good yorkers towards the end, which strangles the opposition.

If we look at his opening spell against Multan in the last season, he bowled what was a fine exhibition of powerplay bowling to one of the greats of the game, Kumar Sangakkara. He troubled Sangakkara with seam movements and caught him fishing outside towards the first slip twice in two overs (first chance was thrown away by Asif Ali). He's all set to make a comeback for the red team and will be one to look out for.

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Babar Azam

Over the past two months, we've been watching the class of this youngster. His shot selection, timing and wristy gameplay have become more and more impressive and he's slowly modifying his game in all three formats. In the previous edition, his obvious problem was his strike rate. He mentioned on a few occasions that he's trying to improve his power-hitting and strike rate.

In the previous three T20I series, he certainly has shown the control. International T20 rankings speak volumes of his success in the shorter format. In the three-match series against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, he scored 126, 163 and 151 runs respectively. In PSL2, he scored 291 runs in 10 matches. He improved on that in the next edition and scored 402 runs in 11 matches. He's certainly a player to look out for and with the form he has shown in the past few months, Karachi Kings have got a gun opening batsman in him.

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Shaheen SHAH AFRIDI

Shaheen came to prominence in the previous season and from then on, he has represented Pakistan in all 3 formats. The talks of his talent grew louder and louder when he bowled an exceptional spell of 3.1-1-4-5. In the Pakistan team, he has picked wickets at crucial stages of the match and bowled beautifully with the new ball. Moreover, he can bowl well at the death too and possesses a good off-cutter slow ball to go along with it. According to many experts , he's got a good head on his shoulders even at this age and surely is one for the future for Pakistan. Lahore Qalandars did a good job to retain him in the squad and they will be hoping for more of the same from the young kid.

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ANDRE RUSSEL

A template of what T20 all-rounders should be and one of the most powerful hitters of the cricket ball. His bat speed and bowling speed go hand in hand at 140+ most of the time. In the first edition of PSL, he was the leading wicket-taker with 16 wickets to his name. He's in a good T20 form of late and will be very crucial for Multan Sultan who picked him as a replacement for the injured Steve Smith. In the latest season of CPL, he became one of the two captains to score a century and take a hat-trick in the same match after the English all-rounder Joe Denly.

He left Islamabad early last season but proved his worth as a finisher in a match against Lahore which went into the super over. He sealed the victory by hitting a six off the last ball of the super over. Multan Sultans have good finishers in the shape of Shahid Afridi and Andre Russel, so these two are sure to set the stage on fire.


Written by Abdul Shakoor

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