PSL2022: What went wrong with the Gladiators

PSL2022: What went wrong with the Gladiators

Synopsis

Sarfaraz Ahmed-led team were fifth on the points table, failing to qualify for the playoffs for third consecutive season

PSL2022: What went wrong with the Gladiators
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Quetta Gladiators’ campaign of the recently concluded season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was slightly better than the previous one.

Sarfaraz Ahmed-led team had a poor streak since 2019 when they lifted the trophy. In the fifth edition of the league, they finished fifth with just four victories to their name, while the sixth season was even worse, where they could taste the win only twice in 10 games.

The former champions stood fifth in PSL 7 as well with just four wins, which was again disappointing, keeping their past performance in view.

In the latest edition of the league, their net run rate halted them from progressing into the playoffs as the fourth-ranked Islamabad United had luck on their side as they qualified for the knockouts from the barest of margins.

The Gladiators triumphed in their do-or-die encounter against Karachi Kings by 23 runs.

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However, due to their already poor net run rate, the former champions needed Multan Sultans to defeat Islamabad United by as many as 157 runs to stand a chance for booking a berth in the next round.

The Sultans could not do Gladiators the favour and the Purple Force were eventually sent home.

Earlier in the tournament, the Gladiators started PSL 2022 on the wrong foot, suffering a loss by five wickets against Peshawar Zalmi in their first game of the season.

The PSL 2019 champions won only two matches in their first five encounters of the Karachi-leg. They hoped that their fortune will turn in Lahore, but the situation remained almost identical.

The Gladiators registered two more wins at the Gaddafi Stadium which proved to be insufficient to advance.

Let’s have a look at the positives and negatives of Gladiators’ campaign in the seventh season of the PSL.

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Positives

Impressive Naseem Shah

Quetta Gladiators’ pace bowling attack was a tricky one for PSL 7. They had two young guns in the ranks, Mohammad Hasnain and Naseem Shah, and two experienced old fellows, Sohail Tanvir and James Faulkner.

Gladiators received a blow when Hasnain’s bowling action was questioned during his stint in the Australia’s Big Bash League and later the examination found it illegal. The young pacer, after three matches, was no longer available for selection.

As a result, the captain had to juggle between the two experienced and the young pace sensation.

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Both the experienced campaigners, Tanvir and Faulkner, were quite disappointing throughout the tournament.

Faulkner, who left the league midway in the ugliest of manners, played six games claiming as many wickets and conceding 196 runs at an economy-rate of 9.80.

On the other hand, Tanvir was even more miserable. He played seven matches in the campaign, claiming just two scalps after giving away 258 runs, leaking runs at 9.92 runs per over.

In these dark times, it was all Naseem Shah for Gladiators who threatened the opposition’s batters with his quality bowling.

The 19-year-old played all ten matches for his team, where he claimed 14 wickets, including a five-wicket haul against Karachi Kings, and gave away 306 runs.

 

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Power hitting trio

While there were many positives for the Gladiators in the PSL 2022, one of them would surely be the team’s explosive top-order.

In the presence of young Englishman Will Smeed, Ahsan Ali who were later joined by Jason Roy, Gladiators had one of the most formidable top orders in the competition.

Out of all of them, Smeed — who was initially picked as a partial replacement for James Vince—was the standout performer.

He was the third-highest run-contributor for the Gladiators in the campaign, scoring 240 runs in six innings along with a strike-rate of 137.14. He missed scoring a century twice, getting out on 99 and 97.

Roy, despite playing just six matches, finished the competition as the highest scorer for his team after scoring 303 runs at an average of 50.50 along with a strike-rate of 170.22. His runs tally included scores of 116, 82 and 54.

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Meanwhile, Ahsan finished as the second-highest run-getter for his side with 250 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 138.88. He scored three half-centuries in the campaign.

 

Negatives

Fragile middle-order:

One of the weak-link for the Gladiators in the PSL 2022 was their middle and lower-middle order where no player managed to stamp authority despite having numerous impressive starts at the very top.

The likes of Iftikhar Ahmed, captain Sarfaraz, Ben Duckett, Umar Akmal, James Vince, Mohammad Nawaz, Sohail Tanvir, Faulkner and Afridi played 44 innings combined in the competition and scored 716 runs at a disappointing average of just 21.05 along with the strike-rate of 131.37, which included just three half-centuries.

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Those numbers were never going to be enough for any team who wanted to be in the mix for a spot in the playoffs.

 

Lack of quality in bowling

Gladiators’ suffered because there was a dearth of support for Naseem Shah. Their bowling attack’s vulnerability can be gauged by the fact that they let the other team score 200+ runs on four occasions in the PSL 2022.

Their bowlers, including Tanvir, Faulkner, Shahid Afridi, Noor Ahmad, and Iftikhar Ahmad, had a rather average outing in the competition.

Ghulam Mudassar, who stayed part of the playing XI on five occasions, took five wickets but conceded runs at an economy-rate of over 11 runs per over.

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When Gladiators drafted the seasoned all-rounder Shahid Afridi in the squad, they must’ve expected him to deliver at least with the ball, if not with the bat.

However, he ended up bowling the most expensive spell in the history of PSL, giving away 67 runs against Islamabad United.

Boom Boom eventually just played three matches in the campaign before withdrawing from the league. His figures were three for 119 in 11 overs.

A lot was expected from Afghanistan’s young left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmed as well. The teenage sensation played four matches, claiming two wickets for 138 runs at an economy rate of 8.62.

The only little support that Naseem was getting was from the left-arm orthodox spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who took six wickets in five matches, giving away runs at an economy rate of 8.40. But he was forced to sit out due to an injury which also ruled him out of the series against Australia.

The lanky fast-bowler Mohammad Irfan looked impressive in his two appearances, taking two wickets and conceding runs at an economy rate of 7.46.

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Off-the-field drama

Quetta Gladiators suffered from off-the-field drama as well where all-rounder James Faulkner left the event, accusing the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for not honouring the contract.

The PCB later denied those allegations in strong-worded statement and subsequently banned the former Australia international from taking any further part in the competition.

Before his departure, the PCB confirmed that the 31-year-old did not make himself available for selection which affected the Gladiators’ overall preparation ahead of the all-important clashes against Multan Sultans and Karachi Kings.

 

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Sarfaraz’s captaincy:

Gladiators were one of the most consistent sides of the tournament till the 2019 edition but things have changed for the worst in the last three years.

Despite all the poor outings in the last editions, Omer Nadeem-led management has persisted with Sarfaraz being their captain.

The wicketkeeper-batter is the only player to lead the side in all of the seven editions of the competition and there is no doubt that his dedication and loyalty has not changed one bit towards his franchise.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that the former Pakistan captain is beginning to lose his magical touch. One primary reason could be his poor form with the bat and the gloves, which is beginning to affect his captaincy as well.

But his on-field attitude has been questioned over and over again where he is more than just animated while dealing with the teammates.

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When things are going right, people tend to look away but when things are going bad, every single move of the captain comes under the scanner and that is exactly what’s happening with Sarfaraz.

Many argue that he should give up the captaincy and play just as a wicketkeeper but then many voices believe that he does not deserve to take part in Pakistan’s premier T20 competition as a wicketkeeper-batter.

It will be interesting to see how the Gladiators’ management would deal with the captaincy issue after another disappointing campaign.

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