Franchise T20 cricket has become very popular in almost every part of the cricketing world. Over the last few years, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has blossomed. Three editions have been played (with the first in 2016) and the tournament has taken some rapid strides.
As far as the records are concerned, Kamran Akmal leads the batting charts and is more than 200 runs ahead of the second-placed Babar Azam. However, amongst overseas players, Shane Watson and Dwayne Smith are the leading run-getters (fourth and fifth overall). Hence, as we near the 2019 edition of the Pakistan Super League, let’s look at the top five overseas batsmen to look out for in the tournament.
#5 Luke Ronchi (Islamabad United)
It’s been close to 18 months since Luke Ronchi from international cricket. However, he’s done well in the limited T20 leagues he’s participated in.
Ronchi set the PSL on fire last season, playing for Islamabad United. In his debut season, he played won the player of the tournament award for his exploits with the bat. In 11 games, Ronchi struck 435 runs at an average of 43.50 and a strike-rate of 182.00. This included 5 fifties as well, including a couple of them in the semi-final and final.
After a poor start to the season, the former New Zealand wicket-keeper batsman turned it around to finish as the season’s highest run-getter. He played a couple of wonderful knocks in the knockout stages as he helped Islamabad United clinch their second PSL title in three years.
Though he hasn’t been in the best of forms and hasn’t been able to replicate that old form, Ronchi will be eager to go out in the middle and silence his critics. The United will once again be hoping Ronchi can set the tone with the bat at the top of the order.
#4 Nicholas Pooran (Sixth team)
Nicholas Pooran was pouched by the sixth team (which was formerly known as Multan Sultans). In his young career so far, Pooran has impressed quite a bit. He was excellent in the Global T20 Canada and has continued his form. In fact, in his last 10 T20 innings, Pooran has been dismissed in the single-digit only once.
He has also played 8 T20 innings and boasts a strike-rate in excess of 150. He has the ability to hit the ball hard and long and can fit anywhere in the batting line-up. After a commendable year, Nicholas Pooran was one of the star attractions not only in the PSL but also in the IPL.
Pooran will play alongside some of the big names like Steve Smith and Kumar Sangakkara this season.
#3 Colin Munro (Karachi Kings)
Karachi Kings named Colin Munro as one of their three Platinum players ahead of the player draft last month. The New Zealand opening batsman was the first player in the history of the game to hit three international tons in the shortest format.
Munro has performed really well for the Kiwis over the last couple of years and he also had a fabulous Caribbean Premier League (CPL) earlier this year. He amassed 567 runs (which included six fifties in 13 innings) at an average of 51.54 and a strike-rate of 140.34. In fact, he has scored in excess of 350 runs in each of the last three CPL seasons.
#2 Steve Smith (Sixth team)
It’s been close to nine months since Steve Smith was banned by Cricket Australia (CA) for a year and since then, he has been trying to play T20 cricket across the globe. He played in the Global T20 in Canada before taking part in the Caribbean Premier League. He also played grade cricket in Australia in the recent past.
His addition to the PSL is a massive boast and the sixth team (formerly known as Multan Sultans) have acquired the former Aussie skipper’s services. With the PSL being scheduled just a month before Smith’s ban is lifted, he would love to strike some form and prove his fitness and form to the selectors in a bid to join the team as soon as the ban is lifted.
#1 AB de Villiers (Lahore Qalandars)
Lahore Qalandars finished with the wooden spoon last season but they might have pouched the biggest signing of this season as they bought South African star AB de Villiers from the player draft. This is the first time de Villiers will be taking part in the PSL and after retiring from international cricket, he is most likely going to be one of the most watched players in any tournament he participates.
After his retirement, the Mzansi Super League was his first assignment and de Villiers looked in decent rhythm. He wasn’t as consistent as he would’ve liked to be but he was still able to amass 282 runs at an average of 31.33 and a strike-rate of 162.06.
There is no doubt that de Villiers’ inclusion in the PSL will light up the tournament and Lahore Qalandars will be hoping that the star batsman strikes some decent form in the tournament.