For about 3 to 4 overs, Waqar Younus and Bazid Khan kept calling for Shadab Khan to bring himself on. The usual trope, ‘leading from the front’ was the argument. Yet the Islamabad United captain held himself and his other spinner Zafar Gohar back.
When he brought himself on in the 11th over, Karachi Kings needed 55 of 54 with eight wickets in hand. A walk in the park, a canter, hit and giggle, whatever cliché you would want to use. But it wasn’t. In the next 17 balls, Shadab and Gohar gave away just 8 runs. With the ball turning a mile and required run rate rising close to 8, Cameroon Delport swung one across the line. He was through the shot a day early and Shadab had his opening.
This Karachi Kings team is different than the team we had seen in previous years. They resisted. But the tactic of holding spin back would work for Islamabad United. They could get out of jail after all. With 14 needed of 8, Shadab Khan bowled a high full toss. Perhaps aiming for a yorker. That is all Umaid Asif needed. In such a close contest, that one hit brought another loss and Islamabad United’s HBLPSL campaign ended.
But how much is the captain to be blamed? All being said and done, this is the first time in five years that the two time Champions have failed to get out of the group stage. The team managers have given some explanations. Losing the most number of tosses and rain effected matches have been a common answer.
However, we can look at the data and see that it is Islamabad United’s pace that has misfired badly. Currently, the top four wicket-takers are all fast men. In the top 10, only three are spinners, including Shadab Khan, who is 10th. Faheem Ashraf picked up 7 wickets at over 10 runs an over, while Rumman Raees bagged 6 and went for close to 9 runs per over. To replace Mohammad Sami, who had been the star for United, Dale Steyn came in. But due to varying issues, he could only play four matches. Musa Khan and Amad Butt were also under pressure, coming in and out of the side constantly.
Islamabad United’s pace bowling average this season of 30.15 runs per wicket is the second-highest by any team in a single season in PSL history (CricViz). While there were plusses in Shadab Khan, Zafar Gohar and continued form of the foreign batsmen. Next season United will have to look to reevaluate their pace bowling options. Given that perhaps Luke Ronchi might hang his gloves, it would be easier said than done.