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Feature

Shaheen, Rizwan and Rossouw in PSL team of the tournament

The intent machine Mohammad Haris and the extraordinary Rashid Khan also find a place in the XI

Danyal Rasool and Umar Farooq
19-Mar-2023
Shaheen Afridi celebrates with Rashid Khan after a wicket falls, Lahore Qalandars vs Peshawar Zalmi, PSL, Rawalpindi, March 07, 2023

Shaheen Afridi and Rashid Khan were impeccable for champions Lahore Qalandars  •  PCB

Mohammad Rizwan (wk)

550 runs, 55.00 average, 142.85 strike rate, one hundred, four fifties
Rizwan will go down as a PSL legend, and it's because of seasons like these. Not only did he retain his incredible consistency - he was the highest run-getter of the tournament - he also demonstrated he can continue to add layers to his batting. Often criticised for his strike rate, it was up to 142.85 this year from under 127 the previous year. His magnum opus was an unbeaten 64-ball 110 against Karachi Kings. He flew from 50 to 100 in 18 balls, and was the only player to score a hundred this PSL at a ground other than Rawalpindi. He was, expectedly, flawless behind the stumps, all while leading Multan Sultans to their third straight final, and ending up agonisingly close to another title.

Saim Ayub

341 runs, 28.41 average, 165.53 strike rate, five fifties
Not quite the find of the PSL, since he'd already been lighting up the domestic circuit, but the effortless step up was still a sight to behold. Having struggled with Quetta Gladiators as a teenager in 2021, Ayub's reinvention as an aggressive top-order ball-striker was instrumental to Peshawar Zalmi's successful season. A 37-ball 53 was a statement of intent, but he hit the heights during the Rawalpindi leg, taking full advantage of the shorter boundaries and flat pitches. Three successive fifties ignited Zalmi's campaign, propelling them through to the play-offs and earning him a maiden call-up to Pakistan's T20I side.

Mohammad Haris

350 runs, 31.81 average, 186.17 strike rate, two fifties)
Don't be fooled by just two fifties in 11 innings, for Haris is no accumulator. An intent merchant in its purest form, Haris takes the attack to the bowlers from ball one, playing a high-risk game that is devastatingly effective especially inside the fielding restrictions. In his first eight innings, he never faced more than 23 balls, but any time he scored runs, his strike rate never dipped below 150. His overall strike rate of 186.17 was the highest in the tournament for any batter with more than 170 runs. A high-impact batter in the truest form, he was still the sixth-highest scorer in the PSL, thanks to a phenomenal run at the tail-end of the tournament, including a 54-ball 85 in the second Eliminator that nearly took his side through to the final.

Rilee Rossouw

453 runs, 45.30 average, 171.59 strike rate, one hundred, three fifties)
A fixture in this exercise every year, Rossouw only bolstered his status as PSL royalty this season. Arguably the greatest overseas player in the competition's history, the South African was its third-highest run-scorer in 2023, doing it all at a strike rate higher than anyone bar Haris in the top 15. An unbeaten 42-ball 78 got things going for him, instantly followed by a 36-ball 75, both resulting in big Sultans wins. He saved his best for Rawalpindi, a breathtaking display of hitting seeing him amass 121 in 51 balls against Zalmi before a quickfire 52 in the final took his side to the brink of the title.

Kieron Pollard

260 runs, 52.00 average, 163.52 strike rate, two fifties
This isn't Pollard's finest T20 season by any means, but then again, he sets high standards. Deployed mainly as a lower-order bludgeon, the West Indian produced several useful cameos. They might not have grabbed headlines, but they won games. An unbeaten 6-ball 15 and another undefeated 21-ball 32 gave Sultans crucial wins early on, while a 25-ball 52 in Rawalpindi helped them chase down 243 with relative ease. He saved his best for the first Eliminator, though, his 34-ball 57 coming in a remarkable counterattack that blew the Lahore Qalandars away. It included smashing Shaheen Afridi for 20, his most expensive PSL over, and he even chipped in with three wickets through the campaign.

Azam Khan

282 runs, 40.28 average, 161.14 strike rate, two fifties
What he lacked in consistency he made up for in pure, exhilarating power hitting. Playing with an Islamabad United side that's best set up to maximise his ability, the free license he had in the middle order was used to devastating effect. It was all evident in two blistering innings: his 42-ball 97 against Gladiators was probably the innings of the tournament, pulverising an attack that comprised Naseem Shah and Mohammad Hasnain at the death. He followed it up shortly after with an unbeaten 72 in 41 balls that helped chase down 201 against Kings, earning himself a call-up to the national T20 side.

Imad Wasim

404 runs, 134.66 average, 170.46 strike rate; 9 wickets, 7.93 economy rate
Kings' captain endured seven losses out of ten matches after taking over from Babar Azam. Though Kings finished fifth, Imad's all-round performance helped him earn a recall to the Pakistan side for the T20I series against Afghanistan.

Rashid Khan

20 wickets, 6.53 economy rate
Rashid's economy rate of under seven stood out in a campaign where he also ended as the third-highest wicket-taker. Only Zalmi took him for 40-plus runs this season. He played a crucial role with Qalandars winning seven out of ten group games.

Shaheen Shah Afridi (capt)

133 runs, 168.35 strike rate; 19 wickets 9.13 economy rate
Shaheen lifted the PSL trophy for the second time in succession, thus establishing his credentials as leader. He also scored a lot of valuable runs, with 133 at a strike rate of 168. to stun the opponent. That included a half-century against Zalmi, before smashing 44 not out from only 15 balls in the final. As for his bowling, he was the tournament's fourth-highest wicket-taker, with one five-for and two four-wicket hauls.

Zaman Khan

Emerging player, 15 wickets, 8.53 economy rate
A last-over specialist, seems to have a knack for defending a handful of runs. He bowled the 20th over in both the opening match and the final, defending 14 and 12 runs respectively. In only his second season, he showed temperament and control to become a part of Qalandars' core. He and Rashid bowled the joint-second-most dot balls - 106. He did not pick up a player-of-the-match award, but there's no denying the impact he had. He was rewarded with a maiden call-up for Pakistan, in the T20I side for the Afghanistan series.

Ihsanullah

22 wickets, 7.59 economy rate
Pakistan unearthed another bowling talent this season. Ihsanullah was picked by Sultans last season, but was injured after one game; this season he has come back as the finished product. The 20-year-old bowled some furious spells, clocking 150kph and announced himself in his second game with figures of 4-1-12-5 against Gladiators. He tested almost every batter he came up against this season and was top of the bowling charts all through before his team-mate Abbas Afridi pipped him at the end, pushing him down to second. He registered his trademark "archer" celebration, and was also rewarded with a national call-up for the Afghanistan series.

Abbas Afridi

12th man, 23 wickets, 9.45 economy rate

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000. Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent