IPL 2020: Top 5 Pakistanis who would make an impact if cleared to play in the tournament
- We preview the top five Pakistani players who would impact the IPL if they are allowed to play
With a World Cup on the horizon and every team stepping up their preparations, the Indian Premier League (IPL) will see many of it's overseas stars represent their nation. One nation that is exempt from this however is Pakistan. Since the very first edition of the IPL, no Pakistani has played in the competition, aside from naturalised South African Imran Tahir and England passport holder Azhar Mahmood.
Being the number one T20I side in the world, many of the top players at the moment come from Pakistan. Such highly ranked players include Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman in the batting rankings and both Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan reside in the top ten of ICC bowling rankings. So on that note, lets take a look at the top five Pakistani players who could, given a chance make a huge impact in the biggest T20 franchise competition in the world. Honourable mentions go to T20 veteran Kamran Akmal, legend Shoaib Malik, powerful finisher Iftikhar Ahmed, fiery pacer Wahab Riaz and fast-bowling brute Haris Rauf.
#5 Shaheen Afridi
A supremely talented fast bowler, Shaheen Afridi is an asset to any team. His best quality is being able to produce a spell of shockingly brilliant deliveries at any time, no matter what his form is. A good length ball that suddenly bounces back and cuts the batsman in half as well as a vicious yorker have become his trademark in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and international games. He would do very well in auctions, especially given his age.
He can bowl with the new ball and produce genuine swing or he can be brought in at first change and still trouble batsmen to no end. His death bowling is also very good and when the pressure is on, he can still deliver. With a T20I bowling average of 20 and a good economy rate of 7.23, there is no doubt that teams such as Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals and most interestingly Rajasthan Royals, who need a replacement for Jofra Archer, would go for Afridi.
#4 Imad Wasim
An extremely dangerous opening bowler regularly in international cricket, Imad Wasim invariably finds a breakthrough early on and his economy rate of 5.97 in international T20 matches is mighty impressive. He has a sharp brain and always has something to say to assist a regular captain when it comes to field placements. Other bowlers also always benefit from his advice on the field of play.
The Indian Premier League teams who could use his consistency with the ball as well as being the extra-finisher include Chennai Super Kings, who like to have lots of spin options, Delhi Capitals, to give an extra opening bowling option and most likely Kolkata Knight Riders, as a replacement for Chris Green.
#3 Mohammad Amir
Having terrorized the Indian batting line-up in particular multiple times, Mohammad Amir would certainly attract huge attention at an IPL auction and would likely be more popular with buyers than Pat Cummins was this year. Amir has a fantastic bowling repertoire and even on flat track pitches as long as he is in decent form, he finds a way to pick up wickets at crucial times. At some IPL grounds, such as Chennai and Hyderabad, he would be right at home and be very destructive.
With an economy rate of under seven in the shortest format at the international level and an average of just 20.74, Amir is consistently impactful with some breath-taking performances coming here and there. The teams likely to plump for the talented left-armer would include Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians and most likely Royal Challengers Bangalore.
#2 Shadab Khan
Probably the second-best leg-spinner in the world, Shadab Khan is an extremely handy all-rounder and can adapt to any situation. He can bat anywhere from three to eight, providing batting stability or strike lusty blows at the end of the innings. Khan can open the bowling when needed, even as his best role is in coming after the powerplay to maintain the wicket-taking rhythm for his side.
Aside from his recently enterprising batting performances, he has a T20I bowling average of 20.87 at a very good economy rate of 7.03, meaning he takes plenty wickets without leaking too many runs. Shadab Khan would provide very tempting to buy for Chennai when Imran Tahir finally calls it a day, or for Kings XI Punjab to give them an overseas leg-spinning option, which would also extend their batting.
#1 Babar Azam
With a monstrous average of 50.72 in international T20 cricket at a healthy strike-rate of 128.13, Pakistani captain Babar Azam is the one of the best players not to be a part of the IPL. He has built quite a lead at the very summit of the ICC rankings for T20I batsmen, far ahead of KL Rahul at number two. While it may come as a source of huge disappointment for most that he may never grace the IPL, we can still speculate as to how he would fit in.
Since moving from batting at three to opening the batting in the shortest format, Babar Azam has impressed massively so there is no doubt an IPL team would look straight to him to fill in gaps at the top of the order. Teams that would possibly look to Babar Azam would include Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals and most interestingly Chennai Super Kings, where Babar Azam would have been a perfect replacement after Shane Watson plays his final IPL sometime in the near future.
#Note: All statistics are as of March 12, 2020