The PSL is back with a bang, and these are not hollow words.
Pakistani cricketers have indeed created a lot of stir by winning prestigious ICC awards just before the start of PSL. No public relations company hired by the Pakistan Super League could have done a better advertisement job. The three cricketers who have won these awards are not just the leading players in the PSL, but they are the captains of their respective teams.
1. Babar Azam
Babar Azam is the darling of not just Pakistan but cricket fans all over the world. A man who commands respect by the sheer weight of his performances. He is the first Pakistan cricketer to be awarded the men’s ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year following his exploits in 2021 when he scored 405 runs in six games at an average of 67.50. PSL is not an ODI tournament, but Pakistan’s and Karachi kings’ skipper is as good in the shorter version as in the longer version of white-ball cricket.
The mere presence of Babar in the teams would give Karachi fans a lot of confidence that Karachi Kings led by King Babar are going to do pretty good in PSL 22. Babar will be replacing Imad Wasim as the captain of Karachi Kings and although some people are concerned that extra responsibility might bring some baggage of its own but, judging by his exploits at the international level, it seems Babar has it under control.
2. Muhammad Rizwan
Muhammad Rizwan is the determination and belief packaged into a 5 foot something frame. The man is diminutive yet able to conjure mountains of resilience and grit. He led Multan Sultan to their first PSL title last year and will be leading the defense of the title and boy he is in some incredible form.
The last PSL was the stepping stone for world domination which we saw during 2021. Not long ago, the man was not picked in starting PSL 11 by the franchise he was employed by. A lesser man would not have survived such lack of belief by employers in his abilities, but not Rizwan. Rizwan kept at it and now he is not just the best wicketkeeper in the country but probably the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world. As an extremely athletic person, he is a dream wicketkeeper, but he probably may not be the most talented batsman, yet his huge success as a batsman screams HARD WORK pays off.
3. Shaheen Shah Afridi
Shaheen Shah Afridi is the men’s ICC cricketer of the year. At 6’5 the biggest of men bags the biggest of awards. He had five 5-fours during the year but the performance that brought him the most joy was his exceptional bowling against archrivals during the World Cup clash.
Shaheen came back to get the big scalp of Kohli. This was an incredible match for Afridi, but you have to do more than just one match to win the biggest award ICC has to offer and Shaheen did way more than playing his part in the first Indian defeat by Pakistan in World Cups. Shaheen is going to lead Lahore in the PSL 22. It remains to be seen how he will manage his troops tactically, but one thing is certain that Shaheen will give his all to win a title for Qalandars. Lahore Qalandars have never won a title but there is a first for everything. Ask those Indian fans who were certain of an Indian victory in Dubai but, … then Afridi started his runup and they could not play him.
We are looking forward to watching these three players on the field once again. Who is your favorite?
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