The Pakistani cricket team is famous for its mercurial nature in the international circuit. While this may prove to be a shortcoming in Tests and ODIs, it provides them with an X-factor in the shortest format of the game. After losing a close encounter against India in the inaugural ICC World T20, they came back strongly, a couple of years later, to clinch the championship.
In recent times, Pakistani players have been making their mark in T20 leagues all over the world. Had it not been for the constant tension between New Delhi and Islamabad, the players of the neighbouring country were sure to play a major role in the IPL as well. In the first edition of the IPL, Sohail Tanvir bagged the Purple Cap to show that Pakistani players would be the ones to watch out for in the future. As luck would have it, no Pakistani player has featured in the IPL after 2008.
All the same, the fans crave as to what would have come about if Pakistani players were given an opportunity to rub shoulders in the IPL. Giving ground to this flight of fancy, the article presents five such Pakistani T20 stars who could have set the IPL on fire.
Spinners, especially wrist spinners, have become the most sought-after commodity in T20 cricket. It is strange that a format which was vaunted as the death knell for the wrist spinners has proved to be their reviver. The proposition that Shadab Khan would have been a hot property in the IPL is evident from the fact that Rashid Khan, the Afghanistani leg-spinner, who is very similar to Shadab has been retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad at ₹9 crore through their RTM card.
Shadab has a deceptive googly and bowls with subtle variations in his speed. Indian cricket fans would remember him for the manner in which he dismissed Yuvraj Singh in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy. The leggie has proved in the Big Bash League that he is not only economical but a wicket taker as well.
There have always been several takers for keeper batsmen in the IPL. In this season as well, Wriddhiman Saha has been picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad at ₹5 crore, Dinesh Karthik by Kolkata Knight Riders at ₹7.4 crore, Robin Uthappa by Kolkata Knight Riders at ₹6.4 crore, Sanju Samson by Rajasthan Royals at ₹8 crore and Jos Buttler by Rajasthan Royals at ₹4.4 crore.
Given that Sarfraz can give the batting order flexibility as he can bat anywhere in the top, middle or lower order, he would have been a real asset for any team. The Pakistani Captain plays spin particularly well. His cheeky stroke-play and the ability to play the ball late would have made him one of the most coveted keeper batsmen in the IPL.
Mohammad Amir comes with a heavy baggage of ups and downs with him. Notwithstanding his past, he is a champion pacer and one of the best left-armers the world has ever seen. He may not be the most consistent bowler but he has proven time and again that he is a big match player.
His destructive spell in the 2017 Champions Trophy final in which he dismissed Virat Kohli twice on two balls is a testament that he steps up his game when the team needs him the most. Amir’s delivery that comes into the right-hander at pace from around the wicket has led to the recurrent downfall of many-a-batsmen like Rohit Sharma.
Not many people know that when Shoaib Malik burst on to the cricketing scene, he was selected as an off-spinner. With an action that was almost identical to Saqlain Mushtaq, Malik soon started taking long strides in the batting department when he was promoted to number four in the batting order.
Shoaib Malik 2.0 is a street-smart cricketer and a pillar in the middle order. He brings in a sense of calmness to the slam-bang cosmos of T20 cricket. Malik’s lack of pace while bowling can come in handy at times as he does not give the batsmen any pace to work with. The fact that he is married to Indian Tennis star Sania Mirza also adds to his brand value.
Playing just his fourth ODI, Fakhar Zaman smashed the Indian bowlers to all parts of the park in the final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. It was his 114-run knock coming off just 106 deliveries that laid the foundation of Pakistan’s victory in the final.
Fakhar is an explosive opening batsman who can also bowl some part-time left-arm orthodox spin. His ability to consistently clear the infield in the Powerplay overs helps him to score at a quick clip. The 27-year-old is also a part of other T20 franchises over the globe like Lahore Qalandars, Durban Qalandars and Comilla Victorians.