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Tournament Journey of Last 4 in PSL 2019

League Round of 4th Edition of Pakistan Super League has been concluded and it has come down to 4 teams to claim the title. A perfect time to look back at how the teams ebbed and flowed at the points table during the league round and here’s a quick look at it:

More than skill and experience, its often form and momentum of a team that decides its fate in a tournament scenario. The above view provides a good avenue to review the last 4 teams, on the same basis.

Let’s review the last 4, one by one: 

QUETTA GLADIATORS has been, by far, the most consistent side of PSL4. They were the first team to qualify for the next round. Although, lost the top position at the end, they remained at the top of the table during most part of the league round. That the lowest their ranking dipped this season was 3rd spot, is a statement in itself about their dominance and consistency in this season. 

They lost both their games against Karachi. Its only the second time that Quetta has lost both the league games to a team in any season – Islamabad did it in 2017. The other team that managed to beat them, this season, was Lahore. Interestingly, Lahore has not managed to win more than 3 games in any PSL season but they have managed to beat Quetta once in all seasons except 2017.

For the first time since PSL1, it’s the first time Quetta Gladiators are going into the last round of the tournament with full squad. All their foreign players have come to Pakistan saving them from their usual pain of fielding replacement overseas players in the most crucial phase of the tournament. Their daring calls to pick Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal and Ahmad Shahzad have paid off, Watson is in form and one of the masters of the format, DJ Bravo has also joined them to bolster their lineup in the Final stage.

Consistency, depth, experience and line up filled with match winners make Quetta the top contenders for the title this year. 

PESHAWAR ZALMI has finished as the top team in the Points Table at the end of League Round for the third time in PSL history. Islamabad United topped the Table in 2018 when Peshawar finished 3rd, in fact just 1 point ahead of the top team to be disqualified, Multan Sultans.

Peshawar didn’t start off at their dominating best – lost 2, won 2, in the first 4 games. But since then, they have been in in devastating form – losing only 1 out of 6. In the last 2 matches, they have showcased full range of their arsenal as well. Against Lahore, they had the experience of Misbah to rescue them from 20/5 situation, while against Karachi, the brutality of Kamran Akmal at the top, all but nullified the very capable fire power of Karachi’s batting.

Peshawar has peaked, gathered and exploded at, probably, the perfect time in the tournament; fully capable of bursting their way to the trophy. 

ISLAMABAD UNITED is the only team – qualified for the next round – with a different captain than the last season and it has reflected in their journey as well. They finished Table Toppers last year but have spent most of the time, this season, right in the middle of the table. They appointed a new captain – someone with not so accomplished captaincy credentials – and then injuries to him forced a young boy – literally – to lead the side. Considering these factors, staying well clear of the bottom of the table for most of part of the season is an achievement in itself. 

Last year, their performance was dominant. The right word for their performance this year would be resilient. There’s no lack of star cast in their line up, still, their journey is built more around team spirit, cohesion and coordination.

Going into the business end of the tournament, Islamabad United looks the most spirited side. The kind of spirit where any player on his day could take them to victory against any side.

KARACHI KINGS had, probably, the most remarkable journey this year. Tipped by many as probably the strongest squad on paper, they had the longest stretch by any team this year in the danger-zone (ranked 5 or 6) – that’s right, even longer than Multan Sultans or Lahore Qalandars who eventually got disqualified.

Winning only 2 out of first 6 games, they were seriously slow off the mark. The explosives filled batting lineup not firing, experienced local pacers – Sohail and Shinwari – going all over the place and captain missing out on bowling specialist bowlers - at one stage, Karachi Kings looked certain to be the first team to get knocked out of the qualification race this year. 

Then came Colin Ingram’s performance against the most consistent side in the campaign, Quetta Gladiators, and it seemed to have triggered the pack.
Karachi Kings have lost only 2 games out of last 6 and both of them courtesy of exceptional individual performances from the opponent camp – by Asif Ali and Kamran Akmal.

Coming out of near disqualification threat, gaining momentum at the right time and still having a couple of match winners yet to fire (the devastating Colin Munro and Ben Dunk), seriously experienced bowling lineup and above all, the home crowd advantage, Karachi looks far from being just a filler in the list of last 4 standing to claim the title.

To round it off, here’s how teams have fared in this year’s PSL. 

Still to come:

  • Journey of all teams across PSL seasons
  • Team-wise Form guide across seasons
  •   Review of teams beyond League Round

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Winning and losing is part of the game. Unpredictability is what differentiates sports played by humans from a game performed by robots. It all reverses when a particular outcome - be it winning or losing - starts to become predictable with robotic accuracy. This has what it become in case of Pakistan’s handling of run chases.

For Pakistan in the recent times, chasing in 4th innings of a Test has become like being chased by ghosts. Whenever Pakistan is put to chase, it looks more like its Pakistan team that is being chased, by the ghosts, rather than Pakistan team chasing a target.

It can be argued that Pakistan was never a side good at innings 4 of a Test. Such arguments can only be settled by looking at the related facts across the eras of Pakistan Test Cricket history. So let’s have a look at it.

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Discussion about ICC Rankings Update