PSL 2019: Pre-tournament best XI

These players will be crucial for their respective teams.

PSL trophy
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PSL trophy. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Vaibhav Joshi
VAIBHAV JOSHI

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PSL 2019 is all set to commence from 14th February and will run until 17th of March. It will be the fourth of its kind. The six teams will be playing a total of 34 matches among them with the finals slated to take place in Karachi, Pakistan.

With PSL not so far, all six the teams would have started their preparations for the tournament. The first and the foremost thing that all the franchises will be looking at is the team combination. In the leagues such as PSL, IPL, BBL, and BPL, it is the team’s dynamics that play a prominent role. Hence, the need for deciding on an apt playing combination.

This time around, all the franchises have managed to strike a balance across all the departments. And, in the process, the franchises have churned out a competitive squad altogether. Thus, with pretty evenhanded sides, let us formulate a competitive pre-tournament playing XI featuring players who are expected to lit up the upcoming edition of PSL.

1. Rilee Rossouw (Quetta Gladiators)

Rilee Rossouw
Rilee Rossouw (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Rilee Rossouw, the southpaw from South Africa, has been on a run making spree in the recent past. The left-hander played his last international game in the year 2016. However, ever since then, he has been one of most the sought-after players in the T20 leagues across the globe. Much so, he shone in the recently completed BPL and took his team to the playoffs.

Having played 14 games in BPL 2019, Rilee amassed 558 runs at an average of 69.75 and a strike-rate of 150.00. He also scored five fifties and a solitary century in the league. With 558 runs, he finished as the highest run-scorer of BPL 2019. He will play for the Quetta Gladiators this season and will be hoping to replicate the same kind of form in the PSL as well.

2. Colin Munro (Karachi Kings)

Colin Munro of New Zealand
Colin Munro of New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Colin Munro has been one of the best batsmen for New Zealand in recent times. Alongside being a marquee player for New Zealand, Munro has become a regular affair in the T20 leagues around the world. However, Colin didn’t have a great run in the year 2018 as he failed to notch-up runs on a consistent basis.

Nevertheless, Munro saw a substantial improvement in his form in the year 2019. His recent performance in the T20I series against India is a testimony to it. In the three-match series against the Men in Blue, the left-hander scored 118 runs at an average of 39.33 and a strike-rate of 163.89. Munro also turned out to be the second-highest run-getter in the T20I series.

He will be hoping to churn out similar kind of numbers for the Karachi Kings this season and Munro’s form will be key to the Kings as well.

3. Babar Azam (Karachi Kings)

Babar Azam
Babar Azam. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Babar Azam is undoubtedly Pakistan’s best batsman at the moment across the limited-over formats. To be compared with Kohli tells everything about Babar as a batsman. Much so, the right-handed batting prospect has been on a roll over last few months. Moreover, Azam is also the numero uno batsman in the current ICC T20I Rankings. It speaks a lot about Babar’s exploits in the limited-over formats.

In the recently culminated T20I series against South Africa, the Pakistani prodigy amassed 151 runs at an average of 50.33 and a strike-rate of 157.29. Besides, with 151 runs, he also topped the table for most runs in the T20I series. Thus, having a look at his recent form, Babar Azam is in the perfect possible space with his batting going into the PSL featuring for the Karachi Kings.

4. AB de Villiers (Lahore Qalandars)

AB de Villiers BPL
AB de Villiers BPL. (Photo Source: Twitter)

AB de Villiers, the wonder boy from South Africa, will be playing his first edition of PSL this year. Having retired in May 2018, De Villiers didn’t play a lot of cricket until the end of 2018-19 when he played for Tshwane Spartans in the Mzansi Super League 2018. Mr. 360 scored 282 runs at an average of 31.33 and a strike-rate of 162.06 in the inaugural edition of the tournament.

AB continued his decent run in BPL 2019 as well. In the sixth edition of the league, having played six matches for Rangpur Riders, de Villiers notched-up 247 runs at an average of 61.75 and a strike-rate of 168.02. The Qalandars have snapped up one of the best in the world and will be banking on De Villiers to take them through this season.

5. Shoaib Malik (C) (Multan Sultans)

Shoaib Malik
Shoaib Malik. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Unquestionably, Shoaib Malik is the most experienced player in the current Pakistan team. Having retired from Tests in 2015, Malik put his entire focus on the limited-over formats. The move turned out to be fruitful for both Malik and Pakistan. However, in the recent past, he has been struggling to rake up runs for Pakistan in ODIs and T20Is.

Nonetheless, pending his experience, Malik happens to be a legitimate choice for any team. Moreover, the fact that he can contribute with the ball as well, the case gets stronger for the veteran. Thus, with ample experience in his bank, Malik turns out to be a smart addition to this pre-tournament XI. He will be the vital cog for the Sultans this season.

6. Sarfaraz Ahmed (WK) (Quetta Gladiators)

Sarfraz Ahmed
Sarfaraz Ahmed. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Sarfraz Ahmed has had a pretty mediocre run in the last few months, primarily as a batsman. Inability to rotate the strike in the middle has caused the trouble for Ahmed. However, Sarfraz is too good a player to be judged upon his previous few performances. Hence, come the PSL 2019, the Pakistani captain will look to brush up his form ahead of the 2019 World Cup.

The Karachi-born cricketer has had pretty decent numbers in T20s. He has featured in as many as 167 T20 games thus far. From these games, he has amassed 2415 runs at an average of 28.08 and a strike-rate of 128.86. The numbers speak volumes about Sarfraz as a batsman. Thus, it is inevitable that he finds a place in this pre-tournament XI for PSL 2019. Moreover, the fact that he is an able wicket-keeper, he will keep wickets for this team as well.

7. Andre Russell (Multan Sultans)

Andre Russell
Andre Russell. (Photo by Ashley Allen – CPL T20/Getty Images)

At this juncture, Andre Russell is by far one of the best all-rounders in the shortest format of the game. With sumptuous batting exploits and a strong bowling hand, Russell calls for a perfect commodity for leagues like PSL. Much so, he manifested his all-round ventures in the recently completed BPL 2019. His consistent performances in BPL turned out to be instrumental for Dhaka Dynamites in their road to the finals.

Andre happened to be a part of 15 matches in BPL 2019. And, from 15 games, he notched-up 299 runs at an average of 33.22 and a strike-rate of 156.54. He didn’t disappoint with the ball as well. The West Indian scalped 14 wickets at an average of 25.00, an economy of 7.44, and a strike-rate of 20.1. Thus, with tremendous all-round abilities, he happens to be a brilliant addition to the Sultans as a replacement for Steve Smith.

8. Imad Wasim (Karachi Kings)

Imad Wasim PSL
Imad Wasim PSL. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Imad Wasim is currently Pakistan’s best bet as a bowling all-rounder. With power hitting skills and some tight lines up his sleeve, Wasim has been pretty decent for Pakistan in the recent past. His performance in the recently culminated T20I series against South Africa is the testimony to it. Although he didn’t shine with the bat, his economical bowling caught a lot of eyeballs.

In the T20I series, Imad managed to score just 29 runs. However, with the ball, he took three crucial wickets. Besides that, he kept the batsmen on their toes as he leaked only 51 runs in his quota of 12 overs in the series. Hence, with such great escapades, Wasim demands a place in this pre-tournament XI.

9. Usman Khan Shinwari (Karachi Kings)

Usman Khan
Usman Khan. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Usman Khan Shinwari has done a decent job for Pakistan over last few months. He has evolved to become a prospective addition in the Pakistani bowling line-up. Moreover, with the ability to unsettle the opposition with the new ball, Usman has become a profound option in other T20 leagues as well. However, the only thing that has hurt Shinwari in the recent past is his inconsistency. Nevertheless, he seems to be working on that.

Shinwari has had an apt T20 experience up his sleeve as he has been part of 56 T20 games thus far. Having played this many T20 games, Usman has 68 wickets at an average of 20.88, an economy of 7.30, and a strike-rate of 17.10. His pacy bowling will be fruitful for the Karachi Kings but needs to stay fit throughout the season.

10. Shadab Khan (Islamabad United)

Shadab Khan of Pakistan
Shadab Khan of Pakistan. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Undoubtedly, Shadab Khan is one of the best spinners in the current Pakistani team. He has been pretty brilliant for Pakistan in the limited-over formats. His talent to scalp wickets while sustaining an exceptional economy rate is something that has helped his team a lot in the middle overs. Besides that, it is his wrong’un that has made the life hell for the batsmen all over the world.

So far, Khan has been a part of 74 T20 games. From these games, he has taken 92 wickets at an average of 19.46, an economy of 6.56, and a strike-rate of 17.70. Hence, with such prominent numbers, he comes into the PSL to play for Islamabad United. Moreover, with an able batting hand as well, the case gets firm for the leggie to set the stage on fire during the tournament.

11. Shaheen Afridi (Lahore Qalandars)

Shaheen Shah Afridi
Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates a wicket. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Shaheen Afridi, the newest entrant to the Pakistani team, has now become a qualitative addition to the bowling line-up. With decent pace and swinging abilities, Shaheen has done wonders for Pakistan over the last few months. Much so, Afridi has become the center of comparisons with the country’s rich history of left-handed bowling legends. The associations are proof of Shaheen’s exploit as a bowler.

Having made his international debut, Shaheen has featured in 21 T20 games thus far. In these games, he has grabbed 27 wickets at an average of 21.70, an economy of 7.64, and a strike-rate of 17.00. He was the find of the last season and has grown in stature at the highest level as well. Lahore Qalandars will be banking on him during the tournament.

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