After playing in the inaugural IPL edition in 2008, few of the Pakistani players were able to grab the limelight. But after the 2008 Taj Attack, the political tension between India and Pakistan rose to such an extent that it restricted India-Pakistan cricket to purely ICC events. As a result, BCCI also debarred all the Pakistani players from the cash-rich Indian Premier League.
Pakistan has always produced great players, be it a solid batsman like Younis Khan, a tremendous captain like Misbah-Ul-Haq or a fierce pacer like Wasim Akram. Knowing that Pakistan has already started their own T20 league, let us discuss the current Pakistan players who would have been a blockbuster addition in the Indian Premier League.
1. Babar Azam
Arguably Pakistan’s best T20 batsman, Babar Azam is ranked #2 in ICC Men’s T20I Batsman Rankings’ and is also the leading run scorer in the Pakistan Super League with 1774 runs. He is an opening batsman who is known for his sheer timing on the ball. Justifying the same, his T20I average is over 47 runs per innings.
IPL Team: If Babar Azam was to play in the IPL, he would’ve been a great fit for the Kolkata Knight Riders. As the 2-time IPL Winners have struggled to find the right opening pair for more than 2 seasons now, the Pakistani ace would have given them solidarity at the top of the order. Azam is known to be a batsman who paces his innings superbly, his arrival would have brought harmony into the KKR batting lineup.
2. Asif Ali
Some regard him as Pakistan’s Hardik Pandya in terms of hard-hitting. Asif Ali is known for his blistering hits towards the end of the innings. He holds the record of the fastest half-century scored in Pakistan Super League which came off just 17 balls. Having struck 54 sixes in 39 innings, Ali is only behind Shane Watson and Kamran Akmal in the list of most 6s struck in PSL.
IPL Team: The hard-hitting Pakistani finisher would have been a great fit for Sunrisers Hyderabad. In the past, the underdogs of the IPL have been reliant on David Warner, Kane Williamson and Jonny Bairstow extensively to score runs. If they flop, they do not have anyone to take care at the end of the innings. Given their recent slump in IPL 2021 as well, Asif Ali’s presence in the team would have given the SRH top order the confidence to play freely, setting the innings on a platter for the Pakistani hard-hitter.
3. Shaheen Shah Afridi
The 21-year-old left arm pacer is an absolute beast for the Pakistan Cricket Team. Having taken 43 wickets in just 31 games, Shaheen Shah Afridi is the 8th highest wicket-taker in PSL’s history. He has a natural ability to swing the ball into the batsman and also away from them with relative ease. In PSL 2020, he was the leading wicket-taker with 17 wickets in just 12 matches.
IPL Team: If Shaheen Shah Afridi was to play in the IPL, MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings would be the ideal team for him to play in. Given that MS Dhoni has the ability to improve the bowler by guiding him with his immense confidence, Shaheen Shah Afridi would be no less than a treasure for him. Also, the death bowlers CSK currently have lack of pace. Considering that Afridi has raw pace, MS Dhoni will be the perfect man to use his speed and variation to full effect at death as well as in the middle overs.
4. Mohammad Rizwan
In Pakistan’s most recent T20 series victory over South Africa, Mohammad Rizwan was adjudged as the ‘Man of the Series’ after he scored a brilliant century in the first and lethal half-century in the second game. With the series being tied at 1-1, Rizwan played a quickfire 42-run knock off 30 balls to lead his side to a 2-1 victory. He is a wicket-keeper-batsman who is known for his consistency and ability to stabilise the innings.
IPL Team: For the inaugural IPL winner Rajasthan Royals to come back to their supreme best, they need to fill-in all their loopholes. With players like Manan Vohra and Sanju Samson’s inconsistency causing major harm to the franchise, Mohammad Rizwan’s presence would have been an ideal way to fulfill the middle order loophole in Royals’ batting lineup. Rizwan has scored 752 runs at an average of 39.5 in T20Is in only 27 innings for Pakistan. This surely proves how he could have dealt with RR’s major problem, ‘inconsistency’.
5. Hasan Ali
One could consider him as Pakistan’s premier T20I bowler in recent times. He is the second highest wicket taker in PSL’s history with 65 wickets in 49 matches. Being a medium arm-pacer, Ali has often provided his side with crucial breakthroughs when needed the most. In 35 matches for Pakistan, Hasan Ali has taken 44 wickets. He also has the ability to clear the boundary with relative ease.
IPL Team: Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore have struggled to find an ideal wicket-tacker overseas player ever since Michael Starc left. Having Indian bowlers like Mohammad Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal leading the attack, RCB has juggled with many pacers who have not been successful to contribute in the past, be it Isuru Udana, Dan Christian etc. As a result, they have lost the greatest number of clutch games in the last couple of seasons. Knowing that Hasan Ali could variate his pace according to the need of the pitch, his wicket taking ability could help RCB eliminate those flaws.