Time Tuesday Jan 25 2022
Sports Desk

PSL 2022: Does batting firepower make Multan Sultans tough to beat?

Sports Desk
PSL squad Multan Sultans. Photo: Twitter
PSL squad Multan Sultans. Photo: Twitter

Winning the Pakistan Super League (PSL) last year was a matter of luck for the Multan Sultans, who struggled in the Karachi leg of the sixth season of the tournament, winning only one of five matches and being the only team to lose a match while chasing. The COVID-induced break, however, helped them tremendously.

When the teams reconvened in Abu Dhabi, Rizwan's team went on a tear, winning seven of their final eight games to claim the title.

Have things improved for Multan Sultans?

The Sultans have tried to decrease the average age of the team by removing Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir from the squad. They didn't have Afridi's services for the Abu Dhabi leg last year and looked the better for it, though Tanvir, who has been a suitable choice with the ball and is always good for a cameo or two, might well be missed, as per a report published by ESPNcricinfo.

Getting Tim David at the first possible chance could be the deciding factor, as he adds to an impressive pool of middle-order power-hitters that includes Sohaib Maqsood, Khushdil Shah, and Rilee Rossouw, according to the report.

The Sultans have a lot of continuity, which is extraordinary for a team that won the title the previous season. Ten of the 11 players who competed in last year's final are still with the franchise, however the absence of Usman Qadir means that 42-year-old Imran Tahir is their only upper tier spin option, which may leave them lacking in that department.

Player to keep an eye on

Something about Shahnawaz Dahani seems too good to be true, and it's not just because of his stellar performance in the PSL last season. With 20 wickets, the bowler who had never played a T20 before the start of PSL 2021, finished the tournament as the leading wicket-taker.

He made crucial breakthroughs in the middle overs and maintained control in the first six overs, which was oddly the optimum moment to utilise him in terms of his strike rate. But it was his naïve natural charisma that shone through in an otherwise bleak, sad, COVID-affected PSL, with his team chasing the top of a wave he helped create.

While his statistics post-PSL remain remarkable - he averages 18 per wicket and his efficiency rate has improved massively (to 6.90 in nine matches since the PSL compared to 8.42 during it) - the 23-year-old is still in its initial stages. He had the luxury of anonymity and a grin on his face during the first PSL, but he will play this one under the spotlights as a bowler batters would target.

Stats of interest

This season, the Sultans' firepower may be difficult to match, reports ESPNcricinfo. Three of the top seven T20 strike rate players since the start of 2021 (minimum 400 runs) are on the Sultans' squad: Rossouw (156.67), David (153.38), and Maqsood (148.34). 

When you add in Rizwan's strike rate at the finish, which has surpassed 200 since the start of 2020, you have a team that can dominate and outplay any opponent on any given day.

Captain: Mohammad Rizwan

Coach: Andy Flower

Full squad: Mohammad Rizwan (capt), Tim David, Rilee Rossouw, Johnson Charles, Imran Tahir, Sohaib Maqsood, Shan Masood, Khushdil Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Rumman Raees, Asif Afridi, Anwar Ali, Dominic Drakes, Imran Khan Snr, Abbas Afridi, Amir Azmat, Blessing Muzarabani, Ihsanullah, David Willey, Rizwan Hussain