The PSL, which is the only major cricket tournament still on despite the global spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), has really thrown up a few surprises.
Multan Sultans have been the dominant team finishing on top at the end of the league stage. But two-time champions Islamabad United and defending champions Quetta Gladiators failed to even reach the knockout phase. Meanwhile, Lahore Qalandars made the playoffs for the first time in PSL history. This has been a closely contested league with the finalists decided only in the last match of the group phase.
There have also been some very good individual performances that have carried teams through to the knockouts. Shadab Khan, for exmaple, has been stellar with both bat and ball and some of the Pakistani pace bowlers have done exceedingly well in tough conditions.
At the end of the league stage, Shadab pipped Shaheen Afridi as the most valuable player in the competition.
According to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, which takes into account not just the runs scored and wickets taken but also the match context and quality of those runs and wickets, Shadab had a total impact score of 613, closely followed by Shaheen who had an impact score of 594.
Lahore's entry into the playoffs was largely due to some individual brilliance. The Aussie duo of Chris Lynn and Ben Dunk helped them win some tricky matches and as a result found a place in the five most valuable players of the league. Mohammad Amir with some key wickets finished with an impact score of 429.
Funnily enough, Shadab had more of an impact with the bat than the ball this season. He scored 263 runs at a strike rate of 159.39 and average of 37.57, the move to push himself up the order working so well that his other set of numbers - eight wickets at an economy rate of 8.24 - seem less impressive by comparision.
Shadab was the highest wicket-taker and second-highest run-getter for his franchise. On multiple occasions, he walked in within the first five overs and counterattacked to help his team post a competitive total or chase down a big score. Shadab's performances have impacted Islamabad's fortunes significantly in this edition of the PSL and hence he is the MVP as per ESPNCRICINFO's Smart Stats.
Lynn and Dunk have single handedly helped Lahore clinch some crucial wins. Dunk's 93 from 43 balls against Quetta and an unbeaten 99 from 40 balls against Karachi Kings were two unbelievable individual performances that helped Lahore get over the finish line.
Lynn flourished only late in the tournament with two vital knocks against Peshawar Zalmi and Multan. His unbeaten 113 from 55 balls in the last league match helped his team make it to the playoffs for the first time, and also made him propel up the impact ratings. The Pakistani pace duo of Shaheen and Amir complete the top five with some impressive bowling performances. Both the quicks broke through the top order of the opposing teams taking key early wickets or breaking partnerships.
Batting impact score is derived taking into account Smart Runs (Factors taken are the innings run rate, required run rate at every ball when he scored his runs, the quality of opposition bowlers, wickets in hand, quality of batsmen to follow, and match situation) and the replacement benefit or cost to the team, as the case may be, if the batsman's performance is replaced with the match average.
Bowling impact score is derived taking into account Smart Economy and Smart Wickets (Factors taken are the phase in which he bowled, the current/required rate, the quality of batsmen dismissed, and the match context when he took his wickets) and the replacement benefit or cost to the team, as the case may be, if the bowler's performance is replaced with the match average. Impact Score is a sum of the batting and bowling impact scores in each match.
While batsmen have been impactful at various times, some bowlers have stood out with match-winning performances and key wickets at crucial stages of the game. Although Mohammad Hasnain is the leading wicket taker of the league, his wickets were not as valuable as those taken by Shaheen. As per ESPNCRICINFO's Smart Wickets Afridi's 13 wickets were worth 16 since more than 50% of his dismissals were of top three batsmen.
Smart Wickets takes into account the following:
The quality of batsman dismissed, so dismissing a top-order batsman fetches more points than dismissing a tail-ender
The score at which a batsman was dismissed, so dismissing a batsman for a single-digit score is more rewarding than getting him out for 60
The match situation at the time of the dismissal, so dismissing a batsman when the match is in the balance is worth more than getting him out when the result of the game is all but decided
Afridi's wickets were also key in breaking partnerships and dismissing well-set batsmen. Although Lahore lost, Afridi conceded just 4.5 runs per over against Islamabad where the match run-rate was in excess of nine. Such impactful performances has made him top the Smart Wicket charts. Amir, Imran Tahir and Samit Patel complete the top five in terms of Smart Wickets . Interestingly, Sohail Tanvir has taken 10 wickets in the tournament. Smart Stats found that Tanvir's 10 wickets were valued slightly less at 7 wickets. More than 50% of his wickets were of lower-order batsmen and were sometimes taken with no impact on the result.
Most impactful performance in a game
Coming into bat at 48 for 3 in the eighth over, Rilee Rossouw's scored PSL's fastest century and helped Multan put up a massive match-winning score of 199 against Quetta.
According to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, which ranks each match performance not only based on runs, wickets and strike rate, but also takes into account the context of the game and the pressure the player was on, Rossouw's unbeaten 100 was worth 216 impact points, nine more than the second-placed Shadab's all round brilliance against Lahore. Rossouw helped Multan score 134 runs in the last 10 overs of the innings. He scored 92 from 38 balls in this phase.
Chasing a daunting 182, Shadab's 52 runs from 29 balls against Lahore was the second-most impactful performance in a game. Shadab came in to bat at 5 for 2 in the second over and was dismissed in the 11th, when the team score was 91. His counterattack ensured that Islamabad were still in the game in spite of losing those early wickets. They won by one wicket with a ball to spare.
The other three most impactful knocks of the season were the 90s scored by Hafeez (1) and Dunk (2). These three performances were more impactful than the centuries scored by Kamran Akmal and Lynn. Dunk's 99 from 40 balls chasing a mammoth score against Karachi was worth 202 impact points while the 98 scored by Hafeez was worth 206 impact points.
Smart Stats is a part of Superstats, a new set of metrics by ESPNcricinfo to tell more enriching and insightful numbers-based stories. To know more about Superstats, click here
Note: All stats updated till end of the league stage