Peshawar Zalmi came, they fought, reached the play-offs and as repeatedly, did not make it to the finish line. It was the seventh season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and the fifth year of this mantra still standing true for the Zalmi’s. It is almost becoming the definition of their franchise. Ever since they won the trophy in the second edition, team Peshawar Zalmi has made it to the playoffs five times, to the finals thrice and how many times did they cross the finish line? None. Even though they had a promising line-up yet they failed to show prominence. Let’s take a glance at what went wrong with them this season.
The Karachi Phase
The men in yellow only managed to win two out of five games they played in Karachi. They won their first game against Quetta and could not carry on that momentum until their fourth game. But these two wins seemed more like luck than a team effort. Here’s what happened
Power Hitters failed to deliver
Team Peshawar Zalmi heavily relied on four foreign players namely Hazratullah Zazai, Tom-Kohler Cadmore (TKC), Liam Livingstone and Rutherford for raising the numbers on the scoreboard. Zazai got unavailable for the first two games due to Covid and the three games he did play, the Afghan hitter scored 84 runs on 57 balls. The English hitter TKC, scored just 22 runs in two matches before he got injured and had to be excluded for the rest of the tournament. Livingstone was unavailable in the Karachi leg and as for Rutherford, he delivered in the match against Islamabad United only.
As far as the local talent is concerned, the Karachi phase saw some amazing performances from Shoaib Malik and Hussain Talat with the bat but it is their inconsistency that kept the team away from a victory for three games in Karachi. The promising emerging player Yasir Khan who made a mark in his very first game by scoring a 12 ball 30 was benched after the second match. Kamran Akmal was brought in his place and it was not a very wise decision.
The middle-order could not offer the same stability it was meant to. Peshawar Zalmi kept experimenting with the batting order and it did not work too well for them.
Terrible Bowling and Fielding
Perhaps what let the team Peshawar Zalmi down more than their batting was their bowling and fielding. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Zalmi bowlers got hit left, right and centre no one could deliver an economical spell throughout this phase. A below-average fielding just aggregated the pile-up of runs. Wahab Riaz, who tops the list of players with the most wickets in PSL, bowled very expensive overs. All in all these two departments lagged behind big time.
Team Peshawar Zalmi in Lahore Phase
The Lahore leg of the tournament saw a changed Peshawar Zalmi team. It seemed they had done a lot of homework and introspection during the off-time and figured out their weaknesses. Even though they did not have the desired start to this phase and suffered a defeat at the hands of Multan Sultans, after all who didn’t?
Liam Livingstone returned to the side only for four games and scored 39 runs killing all the hype his inclusion in the team had created. But the secret ingredient in their batting line-up was the introduction of Muhammad Haris. The 29-year-old kept benched the previous season and most of this season started his innings with fearless batting. He lodged a 27 run 49 on his first outing. That earned him a permanent spot in the team and he was never disappointed. His 70 on 32 balls helped the team secure a seat in the playoffs.
As for the bowling and fielding, these also saw massive improvements. But all these changes couldn’t help them through the playoffs where Islamabad overpowered them while chasing 170. In a typical team Peshawar Zalmi style, they failed to defend this total. The match went on till the very end but a heavy Wahab Riaz last over ended their PSL 7 dream.
What they need to do in the next season is to rethink the entire line-up, trust young talent more and work upon a strong bowling unit. Because if the same mistakes are repeated then they should anticipate another failed exit.