Five key takeaways from cricket’s Pakistan Super League 2024

From Azam’s and Rizwan’s scoring sprees to smoking up the dressing room, here are some key storylines from PSL 9.

Islamabad United's players celebrate their victory at the end of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket final match between Islamabad United and Multan Sultans
Islamabad United's players celebrate winning the Pakistan Super League title on March 18, 2024 [Asif Hassan/AFP]

The Pakistan Super League’s (PSL’s) ninth season ended with Islamabad United winning a record third title, Multan Sultans losing their third final in a row and the result being decided on the last ball of the tournament.

On the field, there was plenty of action: 205 sixes and 476 fours, the 200-run mark was crossed 10 times and four unbeaten centuries were scored.

Here are five talking points from the recently concluded T20 tournament in Pakistan:

Lack of big international names

The PSL once touted itself as the second biggest T20 league in the world after the Indian Premier League (IPL). The likes of Shane Watson, Colin Ingram, Darren Sammy, Kevin Pietersen and Chris Gayle were once part of the league.

In the 2024 event, PSL organizers scheduled the league to overlap with two other competitions playing at the same time, and the PSL final was played just four days before the IPL tournament gets under way.

That, coupled with more money on offer elsewhere as well as restrictions on international player movements by their own governing associations, all added up to the league attracting lesser stars to the event than in the past.

Chris Gayle
Former West Indies captain Chris Gayle was once part of the PSL [Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]

Saim Ayub’s coming-out party

Saim Ayub had already made his Pakistan international cricket debut, but judging by his performance in the PSL, he is surely ready to add to his solitary Test and 12 T20 international appearances.

The left-hander was declared tournament all-rounder after scoring 345 runs at a scintillating strike rate of 158 and picking up eight wickets with his off-spin, which sometimes included opening the bowling.

Ayub’s timing, no-look flicks, energy in the field and aggression up the top order could play a key role in improving Pakistan’s performance at the T20 World Cup in June.

Peshawar Zalmi' Saim Ayub bats during the Pakistan Super League T20 cricket eliminator match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday, March 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
Peshawar Zalmi’s Ayub scored 345 runs in the tournament [Fareed Khan/AP Photo]


Azam and Rizwan put on a show

A noticeable absence of the best international players did not really stop the domestic superstars from performing.

At the top of the order and the scoring charts were two familiar names – Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Azam topped the charts at PSL 9 with 569 runs, including an unbeaten century and five fifties amid the omnipresent concerns over his strike rate.

Rizwan finished third with 407 runs, hitting four fifties and registering an impressive strike rate of 122.

Azam’s Peshawar Zalmi was knocked out in the second eliminator while Rizwan’s Multan Sultans were edged out in the final.

Peshawar Zalmi's captain Babar Azam (R) plays a shot during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket match between Mulatan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on March 5, 2024. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP)
Babar Azam was once again the star of the tournament [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]

Does Karachi still love cricket?

The PSL final in Karachi was a packed affair, dismissing all doubts over the city’s love for cricket — albeit temporarily.

While getting to and inside the stadium remains a tedious task, one that many fans abandoned after one attempt, those who made it through with luck, patience and a blind eye to the poor organization were treated to a thriller.

Before the PSL final, there were more empty seats than filled ones at the National Bank Stadium, leading to fears that the title decider – scheduled for a Monday night – would see a small crowd leading to embarrassment for the organizers. Thankfully for them, the crowd put it on their calendars, and they turned up in large numbers.


And finally, in a highly unusual occurrence in world sport these days, Islamabad United captain Imad Wasim created a media frenzy when he was spotted smoking in the dressing room after what would turn out to be a match-winning, five-wicket bowling performance.

Unaware he was being broadcast on live TV, Wasim was seen taking a puff inside the dressing room before eventually returning to the field with the bat to record an unbeaten 19, ensuring Islamabad’s title-winning charge stayed on track.

Of course, by that time, countless cigarette memes featuring Wasim had already flooded social media.

Source: Al Jazeera