The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has picked up considerable steam, and it seems the biggest T20 wagon is heading in the right direction. Most of the teams have started the season on a pleasant note and have also dusted off their skills. Till now, the bat has dominated the ball, and it is clear from the big totals.
Interestingly, some batsmen have already lit up the tournament as if they have not been affected by the COVID-19 break. So now, the fans can expect more fireworks in the coming weeks. Unlike most of the seasons, this time, the league is being played in the UAE, which is normally the kingdom of PSL.
Almost four PSL seasons have been played out in the Middle-East. And several cricketers, including the Pakistan players, have made it a successful league with their exceptional T20 performances. In particular, there are a few bowlers, who have ruled the roost in PSL, and can also make life difficult for the batsmen if they plied their trade in IPL 2020. These bowlers are well acclimatised with the conditions in the UAE.
Here is the list of 5 PSL bowlers who can make IPL batsmen struggle on UAE pitches :
1) Shaheen Afridi
Toe-crushing yorkers, mean bouncers, and the ability to move the ball sideways are the skills that make a complete fast-bowler. For most of them, it might take years to master all of these skills, but not if you are Shaheen Afridi. The 20-year-old Pakistan pacer bowls all of them without even breaking a sweat. He may be a new kid on the block but might end up as one of the country’s best in the coming times.
Afridi came to the fore after his impressive outings in the 2018 U19 World Cup. In that competition, he scaled 12 wickets in just five games, including a six-fer. He didn’t stop there as in the following 2018 PSL, he turned more heads with his bowling prowess. He picked up seven wickets in as many games, being part of the Lahore Qalandars. It also consisted of a magical five-wicket haul against Multan Sultans.
Then, in the 2019 PSL, he accounted for 10 wickets in eight games. It only got better in the 2020 edition with 13 wickets as Shaheen powered the Qalandars to the playoffs, which is yet to be played. In all, he could have been an absolute threat if he would have played this IPL which is held in UAE. His best of 5/4 in PSL came at the Dubai International Stadium. He could have troubled all the IPL batsmen with his pace and left-arm angle, a weakness for most Indian batsmen.
2) Shadab Khan
Wrist spinners will always have a special place in the hearts of cricket fans. It is because of the purity in their craft. And the country that has often enriched the art of leg-spin bowling is none other than Pakistan. Even now, they have some of the best leg-spinners in the game. One of them is Shadab Khan. The 21-year-old has already shown glimpses of his talent and is set to lead Pakistan’s spin department across formats in the next few years.
Shadab made a name for himself in his debut series itself as he picked up 10 wickets in four T20Is against West Indies. Thereafter, his stocks reached a new high in the 2018 PSL when he played an important role in leading the Islamabad United to their second title. The leggie accounted for 13 wickets in nine games. And who can forget his match-winning performance in that year’s final where his figures read 3/25 in four overs.
Even in the last two seasons, Khan has put up good shows with the ball. As far as his numbers are concerned, his PSL wicket-tally stands at 37. So, there is no doubt that he would have been a treat to watch in the ongoing IPL 2020. He could have caught any IPL batsman off-guard on the UAE pitches. Batsmen like AB De Villiers and Rohit Sharma are vulnerable against leg-spin, and Shadab could have outsmarted them with his wrong’uns.
3) Wahab Riaz
It doesn’t matter how many games a cricketer plays but it is his impact during his playing days which makes a cricketer worth watching. And Pakistan cricket has been fortunate to have so many cricketers of such caliber. In particular, there are quite a few fast bowlers from the Asian team whose impactful bowling has kept the cricketing fraternity on the edge of their seats. The left-arm pacer, Wahab Riaz, is a certain name on that list.
It is a shame that he hasn’t become a world-class bowler as he has given a sneak peek of his potential on numerous occasions. For example, his five-wicket haul against India in the 2011 World Cup semi-final and his terrorising spell against Australia in the 2015 World Cup are eternal. The PSL has also been a happy hunting ground for him. In five seasons he has scaled 76 wickets from 54 ties. Add to that his economy rate of 6.96 which makes him the best bowler in PSL history.
His consistent performances have made Peshawar Zalmi a reckoning force in the league. Moreover, in 2017 he also led them to their maiden title. In short, Riaz has been a superstar of the PSL and it wouldn’t have been a surprise if he became one in IPL 2020 as well. His ability to generate pace and bounce on those UAE pitches is second to none. He could have intimidated the best of the IPL batsmen with his chin music, and the contest would have been a dream-come-true for the cricket fans.
4) Sohail Tanvir
A fast bowler can deceive a batsman in multiple ways. It can be his pace, wrist position, and point of release. Now combine all of these with a wrong-footed bowling action, then it makes a batsman’s life even more difficult. It is what Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir does. The left-arm pacer has been one of the enigmatic cricketers of the modern-day game. With his unique action and bag of tricks, he has been a well-sought commodity in most of the T20 leagues around the globe.
His numbers also prove the same as he has stacked up over 350 wickets in this format. Even in the PSL, Tanvir has carved out his legacy. He has played as many as 44 games in five seasons. In that, he has picked up 44 wickets at an economy rate of 7.44. Tanvir has also won the event, being part of the Quetta Gladiators in 2019. Coincidentally, it also turned out to be his best PSL season as he bagged 15 wickets in 12 games.
At 35, the speedster is still one of the best in the business, and it could have been great fun if he played the IPL 2020. He is the first Purple Cap holder in IPL, and it was his contributions that paved the way for the Rajasthan Royals to win the tournament in its inaugural season. Sohail can keep most of the IPL batsmen at bay just with his abundant T20 experience. And then there are his variations that would have been tricky for anyone on the tacky surfaces of UAE.
5) Mohammad Hasnain
Sometimes you might think that you can pick anybody from the streets of Pakistan, and he consistently clock over 140 kmph with the ball in his hand. The amount of fast-bowling talent the country is producing is beyond imagination. The latest to the list is the 20-year-old Mohammad Hasnain. If nurtured properly, the speedster is one to look out for in the future as he has the skillset to become a successful international bowler.
The youngster first grabbed the attention in the 2019 PSL, where he worked out some serious pace. In one of the games, he clocked 151 kmph, and it turned out to be the fastest delivery of the tournament. Not only that, but he also picked up 13 wickets in his debut season, including a Man of the Match performance in the final. In other words, he guided the Quetta Gladiators to their maiden title with his bowling might.
Hasnain continued his dream run in the 2020 PSL as he became the leading wicket-taker of the tournament at the end of the league stage. Thus there is every possibility that he would have again stolen the limelight if he played in the IPL 2020. Most of the IPL batsmen would have hopped around in his spells as he can crank up and generate good pace even on the placid tracks of UAE. Who knows, he might have ended up bowling the fastest ball of IPL 2020?