Multan Sultans – Picture perfect

Multan Sultans – Picture perfect

Synopsis

The team seemed flawless throughout the campaign and had almost defended their title

Multan Sultans – Picture perfect
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Multan Sultans, the latest addition to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) lineup, were almost flawless in the recently concluded season of the tournament.

Sultans entered the campaign as the defending champions and they were very much able to defend it successfully.

The team based on the southern city of Punjab were first inducted in the 2018 edition of the action-packed T20 tournament.

In the inaugural season of the league, the franchise had a rather disappointing outing under the captaincy of the seasoned all-rounder Shoaib Malik.

The team started off their PSL journey with a win over the defending champions Peshawar Zalmi; however, in the rest of the tournament, they could only manage to win four matches and stood fifth on the points table.

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In the following season, their performance even worsened and could register merely three wins in the whole tournament, once again ending up at the same position.

In the 2020 edition of the event, Shan Masood took over as the captain and Andy Flower joined as the head coach. The duo really changed the fortune for the franchise. For the first time, they qualified for the playoffs.

They topped the points table with six victories and two losses but faced two defeats in the playoffs. Sultans managed to secure the third position for the first time in the tournament.

In the 2021 season of the event, the in-form wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan held the reins of the team and finished the group stage at the second position.

The franchise reached the final of the tournament for the first time and defeated former champions Peshawar Zalmi in the all-important clash.

Since then, the team did not look back and dominated all the other teams in the latest episode of the T20 festival.

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Multan Sultans won nine out of their 10 matches in the group stage, losing the only game to Shaheen Shah Afridi-led Lahore Qalandars.

They reached the final in a convincing manner and faced Qalandars for the trophy where they came second best.

Qalandars defeated Sultans in the grand finale played at the Gaddafi Stadium by 42 runs.

In the post-match presentation, a confident Rizwan stated that the Qalandars were the deserving winner as only Sultans or the latter looked like a unit that had no weak links.

As Rizwan and his boys completely owned the seventh edition of the tournament, let’s have a look at their performance throughout the league.

 

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The good

Rizwan, the leader

The 29-year-old has emerged as an exceptional leader in the recently concluded instalment of the event. Though Rizwan led Sultans to lift the PSL trophy for the first time in PSL 6, this time he has really turned up as the leader.

He proved this time around that he is not only a hard-working and intelligent wicketkeeper-batter but also a thinking captain.

Rizwan played a pivotal role in giving Pakistan a new all-rounder in the shape of Khushdil Shah. The way he utilised the explosive batter as a bowler is incredible.

He kept encouraging him, bowled him against the right-handers with a field that suited his bowling. Eventually, Khushdil ended up with 17 wickets in 11 innings, the fifth-highest wicket-taker of the tournament.

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The man behind the stumps always had a smile on his face, showing that the situation was under his control, when on occasions, it wasn’t.

One of the highlights of his captaincy was when Tim David went for a couple of sixes, yet Rizwan came running towards his bowler with a smile and hugged him. These little gestures said a lot about his captaincy.

 

The dynamic opening duo

The left-handed opening batter Shan Masood and Rizwan look like a rather unimpressive opening pair in the T20 cricket. However, the duo proved to be a nightmare for the opponents in the campaign.

Rizwan and Shan always kept the scoreboard ticking, either by striking boundaries or rotating the strike. This is why the opening pair was able to put three century stands and one 98-run and 85-run partnership each.

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Moreover, as individuals, Rizwan and Shan also stood as second and third-highest run-scorers of the tournament with 546 and 478, respectively.

Rizwan maintained a healthy average of 68.25 in the tournament while scoring at a strike rate of 126.68. Meanwhile, Shan had a scoring average of 39.83 along with a strike rate of 138.15.

 

The mighty middle-order

When the Rizwan-Shan pair gave the team a perfect launching platform, the strong middle-order of the team exploited the situation perfectly.

Their middle-order comprised Rilee Rossouw, Tim David and Khushdil Shah, which was arguably the strongest middle-order in the whole competition.

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David contributed 278 runs in 11 innings at an average of 39.71 at a brutal strike rate of 194.40. He also stood as the batter with the most number of sixes in the competition with 21 mighty blows.

Then there was the former South Africa batter Rossouw, who played a key role in Sultans’ success in the tournament. He scored 275 runs in 10 innings, maintaining an average of 39.28 along with a blistering strike rate of 167.68.

Khushdil was also merciless with the bat. He came out to bat 10 times in the league, where he piled up 153 runs at an average of 25.50 with an outstanding strike rate of 182.14. In one of the games against Lahore Qalandars, Sultans needed 16 runs to win in the last over. Khushdil had just come out to bat and he hit Qalandars’ premier pacer, Haris Rauf, for three consecutive fours and a six to seal the victory. This is how impactful he was in the tournament.

Even when the consistent openers of the team failed to put up a significant partnership, their middle-order took control of the situation.

In a game against Islamabad United, they lost both their openers and one-down batter Sohaib Maqsood at the aggregate score of 78 runs in 10.2 overs. It looked like Sultans might end up at a lower total.

In that situation, Rossouw and David joined hands and contributed 110 runs together in 8.2 overs. The left-handed batter made 67 off 35 with the help of four 4’s and six 6’s, while David scored 71 off 29 courtesy of six 4’s and as many 6’s.

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Moreover, Rizwan also had two century stands with Rossouw, which just depict the quality of their batting.

 

Spin bowling

Multan Sultans had the most successful spin-trio of the tournament in the shape of the experienced Imran Tahir, Asif Afridi and Khushdil.

The Pakistan-born South Africa leg-spinner is vastly experienced, especially when it comes to league cricket. And he brought all his experience to use during the successful Sultans’ campaign.

Tahir was instrumental throughout the tournament, squeezing runs and also taking timely wickets. The leggie bowled 46 overs, conceding 298 runs for 16 wickets at an impressive economy rate of 6.47.

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On the other hand, though Rizwan is vastly praised for his antics of using Khushdil as a mainstream spinner and how he utilised him, it was still the left-arm spinner who executed the plans successfully.

Khushdil bowled 32.2 overs in the tournament for 223 runs, removing 16 batters. He also maintained an impressive economy rate of 6.89, while his best bowling figures were 4 for 35.

Meanwhile, Asif Afridi was kind of a silent warrior. Usually, opening the bowling for his team, he bowled 19 overs for just 124 runs, restricting the flow of runs to 6.52. Moreover, he also took eight crucial wickets during the span.

 

The bad

Fast bowling

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In all honestly, there was literally nothing about the Multan Sultans’ PSL 7 campaign that you can labeled as bad.

Still, if you have to criticise something, it can be runners up’s fast bowling. All in all their batting, spin bowling and fielding were up to the mark, but they were not that great when it comes to fast bowling.

Though Shahnawaz Dahani remained the highest wicket-taker for the franchise in the tournament with 17 wickets, he was the second most expensive bowler of the team with an economy rate of 9.33.

On the other hand, Rumman Raees played six games, where he took only three wickets but leaked runs freely with an economy rate of 9.41, which proved him to be the most expensive bowler of the unit.

However, David Willey was respectable throughout the tournament. He was a part of the playing XI on eight occasions, conceding runs at merely 8.15 runs per over while removing 13 batters.

All in all, Multan Sultans looked almost flawless throughout the tournament.

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