Fakhar, Shadab, Rashid and Shaheen in ESPNcricinfo's PSL Team of the Tournament – ESPNcricinfo


J + K
Players from Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans, predictably, dominate our XI

Fakhar Zaman (588 runs, AVG 45.23, SR 152.72, seven fifties, one hundred)
A remarkable, impactful season. In the early stages, the length of time Fakhar spent at the crease was directly proportional to the Lahore Qalandars’ result. There was a sense of over-reliance on him but he just kept producing. He made eight 50-plus scores, and his 60 off 37 balls against the Multan Sultans and his 106 against the Karachi Kings set the tone for the Qalandars to go big. His purple patch began a discussion about whether he can break up Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam’s opening partnership for Pakistan.

Mohammad Rizwan (546 runs, AVG 68.25, SR 126.68, seven fifties)
Mr Consistent. There is hardly a day that goes by now without Rizwan scoring runs. He is busy with the bat, impeccable behind the stumps and has enhanced his credentials as captain, with the Sultans winning 10 out of 12 games this season. This was the second successive season in which he passed the 500-run mark, and as captain has led the side to back to back finals. His 82 off 43 against Peshawar Zalmi and 76 off 56 against the Kings might have won him the Player of the Match award, but equally valuable was how he held his nerve in a lower-scoring game against Islamabad United to score an unbeaten 51 off 42 and save the day after the Sultans were 18 for 3. He earned the PCB’s awards for player of the season and top wicketkeeper, and won the Spirit of Cricket Award for the Sultans.

Shadab Khan (268 runs, AVG 33.50, SR 162.42; 19 wickets, AVG 10.89, ER 6.46, one fifer)
The complete package as a cricketer this season. The United allrounder had had a couple of inconsistent years with a recurring groin injury, but this was a blockbuster season. Though it came in a losing cause, his 91 off 42 balls against the Sultans, while chasing 218, showed grit and intent. His sparkling 52 off 32 and four-wicket haul against the Qalandars also went in vain but his contribution left an echo of his brilliance. He recaptured the bowling fizz of his earlier years, and was the season’s second-highest wicket-taker despite missing games with a groin injury.

Rilee Rossouw (275 runs, AVG 39.28, SR 167.68, three fifties)
No. 4 is a difficult position in T20s, but Rossouw is adept at it. He was elevated to No. 3 against the Quetta Gladiators when the Sultans openers had added 119, and it allowed him to blast a 26-ball 71 to help the side to post the highest total of the tournament. He scored three fifties in all, and each of them provided serious impetus.

Tim David (278 runs, AVG 29.71, SR 194.40, two fifties)
David was surprisingly lifted from the Diamond category to the Platinum category this season and he made the most of it. He was unknown in franchise cricket until last year when he was identified by the Qalandars in a replacement draft for the second leg of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi. He was pivotal in Sultans head coach Andy Flower’s planning for the middle order and paid back all the faith placed in him by scoring valuable runs at a blistering rate. He usually occupied the No. 5 slot, which gives batters little time to get their eye in; how well he did can be summed up by the fact that he scored at a 140-plus strike rate seven times in the eight innings in which he faced at least 10 balls. Both his fifties – 71 against United and an unbeaten 51 against Zalmi – came at strike rates of well over 200.

Khushdil Shah (153 runs, AVG 25.50, SR 182.14, 16 wickets, AVG 13.93, ER 6.89)
Scored important runs, bagged crucial wickets, and reinvented himself. He batted at No. 5 or lower in eight of his 10 innings and only got to face 74 balls in those opportunities, but he made full use of them, scoring 141 runs at a strike rate of 190.54. His season strengthened his Pakistan prospects, having had a largely stop-start international career until now. He will be hard to ignore now, having shown his worth as a three-dimensional player. With the bat he often provided vital late momentum, particularly during his 21 off 9 in a tense chase against Kings and his 21 off 7 against Zalmi.

Rashid Khan (13 wickets, AVG 17.30, ER 6.25)
After lighting up the league last year, Rashid Khan was no less effective this time around for the Qalandars, and continued to get better as the tournament went on. With the lowest economy rate of all bowlers in the PSL, Rashid served both as a container and a lethal wicket-taker through the middle and late overs. His 4 for 17 against the Kings might have been the standout performance, but in truth, there was gold sprinkled throughout his season; in five of his nine games, Rashid conceded a run a ball or less. Such was his contribution to the Qalandars that they sensationally offered to fly him in just for the final after he had left for international duty. It didn’t happen, but Rashid was a big reason why they were in the final in the first place.

Imran Tahir (16 wickets, AVG 18.62, ER 6.47)
Almost 20 years Rashid’s senior, Tahir’s dazzling season bags him the second specialist legspinner’s slot on the XI. Another bowler who combined economy with potency, Tahir set the tone in the tournament’s opening game, taking 3 for 16 in a Player-of-the-Match performance. It was one of three games where he took three wickets. He was also the architect of a rout of United in a late playoff game, taking 2 for 8 in four overs. He would only concede more than 30 runs twice in 12 innings, and it was perhaps no surprise the Qalandars decided caution was the way to go against him; in both the qualifier and the final, he went wicketless, but conceded just 22 and 29 respectively.

Shaheen Shah Afridi (20 wickets, AVG 19.70, ER 7.57)
The prince of Pakistan cricket and captain of the Qalandars, Afridi’s star continues to soar. After finishing third in the wickets charts last season, he stands atop on his own this time, the only man with 20 to his name in the PSL this season. He finished with an impressive economy rate too, for someone who traditionally bowls through the most difficult overs, and was the spearhead for his side’s success, with captaincy appearing to strengthen rather than burden him. He would save his best for last with 3 for 30 in the final, and while it remains very much a footnote, there was also a delightful knock with the bat, an unbeaten 20-ball 39 that dragged his side into the tournament’s only Super Over.

Naseem Shah (14 wickets, AVG 21.85, ER 8.01)
The only fast bowler with a five-for the season – a fearsome 5 for 20 against the Kings. Having lost his place in the Pakistan side and picked up a few injuries, the happenings at the Gladiators gave Naseem a chance to properly lead the line for his side. With Mohammad Hasnain ruled out, the 19-year-old Naseem stepped into his shoes admirably, with the fierce bouncer always keeping batters on their heels. It might not have gone the Gladiators’ way this time, but in Naseem, they have one of the characters who should be central to their rebuilding.

Zaman Khan (18 wickets, AVG 21.50, ER 8.26)
Just four maidens were bowled in this PSL, and Zaman was responsible for two of them. The 20-year-old was a part of all 13 games for the Qalandars, roaring back after a rough first two games to take 3 for 32 and win the Player-of-the-Match award against Zalmi. He would produce such performances throughout the season, including a 4 for 16 against the Kings and two crucial middle-order wickets in the final against the Sultans, where his strike to remove Rossouw turned the game the Qalandars’ way. He ended with 18 wickets, behind only Shaheen and Shadab.

12th manShan Masood (478 runs, AVG 39.83, SR 138.15)

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000