A lot has gone wrong for Quetta Gladiators this season. If Sarfaraz Ahmed had designs to make a comeback in the Pakistan team based on Pakistan Super League performance, it has gone horribly wrong. On these pages, I have outlined how things started going wrong from the very start. They still have two games to make things right. But when you are beaten by Lahore Qalandars twice in a season that is basically rock-bottom.
Obviously, the usual suspects are out again. The most obnoxious are the ones blaming the young kid Azam Khan. Given who he is and how he looks, things were stacked against him from day one. He has a target on his back. Yet one would think that playing two match-winning innings, in eight games as an emerging player would give him some leeway.
For five years now, we have seen either excellent young bowlers or decent keepers play as emerging players in the HBLPSL. Few teams have opted for batsmen. The ones that have played, failed to make their mark. Last season, the highest-scoring non-capped Pakistan batsman was Sohail Akhtar.
This year, we have had two batsmen who have shown some mettle. Haider Ali looks an outstanding prospect. He has played in a team where there are other senior batsmen producing runs. His role is to go out and attack, which shows in his strike rate of 162. Batting at the top order in T20s is much simpler than lower down the order. Haider has helped Peshawar set up their innings and is yet to nail that big enough score.
Whereas, Azam Khan has had two match-defining or winning innings. Twice he has been able to get in and twice he has taken his team home. 59 of 33 in the opening match with the world’s eyes on him was an outstanding innings. Another 46 of 30 came against Karachi Kings in a chase. Both times, without Azam’s contribution, it looked as Quetta’s ship would sink. In the past four games, he has come in with the side needing more than 10 runs an over or with the top order shot for under 30. The failure of bowling and top-order are putting excessive pressure on the young boy.
Did Quetta Gladiators really bank on Azam Khan to win them the tournament? Given our history with young batsmen in the PSL, he has had a decent tournament. But the ‘usual suspects’ need a target to shoot at.
Who better than a fat looking boy who is the coach’s son? Easy does it for trolls.