Islamabad United fans and perhaps their management would be reminding themselves that they are habitually slow starters in the tournament. Two wins in six matches does represent that. There have been positives.
The performance of both emerging players has been heartening. Musa Khan won them a match with the bat. They have found a way to bat deep, something most teams in the HBLPSL struggle with. And hey…they have discovered a brilliant middle-order batsman Shadab Khan. Four innings, 153 runs at a strike rate of 166, those are astonishing numbers. All those years Shadab Khan spent talking about his batting, lo and behold, it’s finally happening.
Despite these positives, United sit on five points. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of it has been their bowling. Admittedly, conditions have suited the batsmen. However, their experienced bowlers aren’t delivering. The pace bowling allrounder had a decent 1st week of the tournament. However, in the past couple of games, he has been taken for a lot of runs. His overall economy has risen up over 10. Amad Butt for all his trickery has gone over 9. Shadab Khan and Musa Khan, both are going for over 8.2. The two youngsters Akif Javed (7) and Ahmed Safi Abdullah (just over 8) have been on the lower side in terms of economy.
For Shadab Khan, on these wicket 8 and over should be acceptable. But the greater problem has been his lack of wickets. In five matches he has picked only three wickets, having failed to bowl his full quota of four overs in 3 of the five matches. In the game against Lahore, he was able to pick up two wickets for 14 runs. According to CricViz, he did so by bowling a fuller length. This could be because Qalandars only have one left-hander in their batting order in Fakhar Zaman and Shadab was able to get him out.
Teams have challenged him by sending in left-handers in the middle order and the United captain has struggled to get them out. He bowled an economical spell against Karachi Kings yesterday but rarely looked threatening. The pacers were really poor, going at 14s in the 1st ten overs. It made life difficult for the spinners too. Yet the wicket-taking role isn’t new for Shadab Khan. Consistently under Sarfaraz Ahmed, he was Pakistan’s go-to bowler. The most crucial overs in the innings would be bowled by him.
As captain, Shadab Khan has to take more risk, and try and pick up wickets with the ball. His batting has been superlative but with the bowl, more is needed. United have over the years shown that they find a way to win. With Dale Steyn just arriving and Rumman Raees also getting some game time under his belt, things should improve. However, it would be difficult for the capital’s team to win the tournament without Shadab the bowler delivering wickets.