Pakistan Super League (PSL) has not only established its identity as one of the world’s most competitive, but has proved to be the perfect breeding ground for budding talent.
Since its advent in 2016, the league has served as a launchpad for over a dozen youngsters. Some of them are now making strides worldwide including, Haris Rauf, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain, and Fakhar Zaman, to name a few.
With all the glitz and glam of the PSL, opportunities come begging every year for youngsters to grab. And this edition of the super league brings similar promise.
With just two more days in the tournament, let us take a look at the five most promising youngsters to watch for during the PSL 2020.
Akif Javed –Islamabad United (Emerging)
They say that Pakistan has a constant supply of premier fast bowlers. Glancing down this article, you’ll know why! Three of the five players on our list are emerging fast bowlers, and Akif Javed is top on the list.
The teenage Kohat-born was first identified during last year’s National T20 tournament. In a handful of appearances for Balochistan, Akif revealed what he is made of, as he bagged nine wickets in 7 matches in good batting conditions.
On the back of this performance, he was inducted to Pakistan Emerging Team for ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup in Bangladesh last November.
The rookie pacer clicked 140 mph quite consistently during the two tournaments, without compromising on line and length, which attracted the eyes of bowling experts, Pakistan team management, and former players.
During this year’s PSL, the left-arm quick represents Islamabad United, where he will get to rub shoulders with the likes of Dale Steyn.
2. Arshad Iqbal – Karachi King (Emerging)
The next quick on the list is Arshad Iqbal of Karachi Kings. The 19-year-old comes straight from the domestic circuit. Having represented Pakistan U19 in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2018, Arshad also has one first-class, three List ‘A’ and seven domestic T20 appearances to his credit.
His total wickets tally is 19, while 10 of them have come in T20s – probably what attracted the Karachi Kings management.
The Swabi-born has also represented Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the National T20 Second XI tournament, held in Karachi’s National Stadium last year.
With the likes of Mohammad Amir, Chris Jordan, and Liam Plunket to look up to, Arshad will have a golden opportunity to prove his mettle in the mega tournament.
3. Dilbar Hussain – Lahore Qalandars (Silver)
There are few who go from nobody to somebody within no time, and Dilbar Hussain is one of those lucky ones. Just a few years ago, he had completely given up on his dream to become a star cricketer and had gone back to working in agricultural lands with his father.
Having been (re)discovered by the Qalandars’ Player Development Program in 2018, Dilbar made a quick recovery and became one of the top finds of the franchise. The 26-year-old recently flew to Australia to replace Haris Rauf for Melbourne Stars.
The only game he got was against Brisbane Heat, where he picked up the prize wicket of AB de Villiers.
4. Zeeshan Ashraf – Multan Sultans (Diamond)
With over nine years of first-class, List-A, and T20 experience under his belt, Zeeshan Ashraf is a pure domestic product. The 28-year-old made his debut back in 2011 for Faisalabad Wolves against Multan Tigers in the Super8 T20 Cup. Since then, he has played 25 First-Class, 23 List-A and 22 T20s for different domestic teams and has five centuries and 12 half-centuries.
He was the hero of last year’s National T20 Second XI tournament, where he represented Southern Punjab. The southpaw had a remarkable run throughout the event, scoring 395 runs in seven innings, on the back of a century and three fifties at an average of 65.83.
He continued to showcase his sublime form in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy tournament 2019-20, where he scored back-to-back hundreds for Southern Punjab.
Realizing how special a batsman Zeeshan Ashraf is, Multan Sultans picked him via Wild Card during the PSL 2020 drafts, which upgraded his category from Silver to Diamond. Both Ashraf and his team will be hopeful that the move brings them close to the diamond-studded trophy.
5. Haider Ali – Peshawar Zalmi (Supplementary)
If you haven’t seen Haider Ali playing yet, imagine Babar Azam batting in the early years of his career.
The 19-year-old was drafted for the recently-concluded ICC Under19 World Cup, where he scored a half-ton against arch-rivals India in the semi-final.
Haider is another star in the making with a wide range of shots, a stable batting stance, and a sense of game awareness.
Though just a teenager, Haider has already made an impact in first-class cricket, having scored a big hundred in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final against Central Punjab. He scored 645 runs in the last domestic season at 49.61.
Being picked in the supplementary category for Zalmi, he has to compete against the likes of Kamran Akmal, and Tom Banton for a spot in the top order. But, if Ali gets to kit up for the Yellow Storm, he has the potential to steal the show.