PSL 2019: Predicting the top five wicket-takers
The 2019 Pakistan Super League will be the fourth edition of the tournament, which was started in 2015. The tournament is scheduled to start in February and eight of the 34 games, including the semifinals and finals, will be played in Pakistan - with five games in Karachi and three in Lahore.
The final is set to happen on March 17 in Karachi. AB de Villiers will be making his tournament debut for Lahore Qalandars. Some of the other exciting overseas stars include Colin Munro (New Zealand), Sandeep Lamichanne (Nepal), Corey Anderson (New Zealand), Kieron Pollard (West Indies), Sunil Narine (West Indies), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), and Nicholas Pooran (West Indies).
Faheem Ashraf and Wahab Riaz finished as the top wicket-taker last season with 18 wickets each while Wahab Riaz leads the all-time chart with 48 wickets in 32 PSL matches.
On that note, let's try and predict the top five wicket-takers who can rule the roost in the upcoming edition of the Pakistan Super League.
#5 Usman Khan Shinwari
Usman Khan Shinwari is one of the best young fast bowlers in world cricket at the moment. Having made his T20I debut for Pakistan in 2013, the left-arm pacer was nowhere to been seen until 2017. He made his ODI debut for Pakistan in 2017 and went on to play nine ODIs and 13 T20Is for his national team so far.
Shinwari made his Big Bash League debut in December and picked up eight wickets form seven games for Melbourne Renegades at an economy rate of 6.14. He also delivered the fastest ball in BBL 2018/19 when he clocked 151 km/h against Melbourne Stars.
Playing for Karachi Kings, Shinwari was also the third highest wicket-taker in 2018 Pakistan Super League with 16 wickets in 10 games. With his blistering pace, the youngster is expected to create a lot of trouble for the batsmen in PSL 2019.
#4 Shaheen Shah Afridi
The 18-year-old made his mark in international cricket last year when he starred for Pakistan in all three formats of the game. He was exceptional for Pakistan in the 2018 ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand and finished the tournament with 12 wickets.
Shaheen Shah Afridi has picked up 13 wickets in just six One Day Internationals and 11 wickets from seven T20Is. He finished as Pakistan's top wicket-taker in the recently concluded ODI series against New Zealand in UAE.
He has also made his Test debut in December and played three Test matches so far. At just 18, Afridi has already shown that he is definitely the one for the future. Afridi picked up seven wickets for Lahore Qalandars in PSL 2018. After a phenomenal stint with the Pakistan national team, expect Shaheen Afridi to go big in PSL 2019.
#3 Faheem Ashraf
A right-arm seamer who bats left-handed, Faheem Ashraf is regarded a lot for his all-round exploits in T20 cricket. Having made his T20I debut for Pakistan in 2017, Ashraf has played 23 games for Pakistan and picked up 21 wickets at an economy rate of 6.68.
He is also a more than useful batsman and has a T20I strike rate of 121.51. Ashraf played for Islamabad United in PSL 2018 and finished as the top wicket-taker in the tournament with 18 wickets from just 12 games. He played a key role in their title win in PSL 2018.
The 25-year-old is now a regular fixture in Pakistan limited-overs side and also made his Test debut in May 2018. Ashraf will also join Northants Steelbacks for the whole of T20 Blast this summer. He will once again feature for Islamabad United in PSL 2019.
#2 Sandeep Lamichhane
The teenage sensation from Nepal is one of the bowlers to watch out for in PSL 2019. Sandeep Lamichhane first broke on to the big stage during IPL 2018 when he was just 17. He played three games for Delhi Daredevils and picked up five wickets.
He then played in the 2018 Carribean Premier League for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots and picked up seven wickets in five games at an economy rate of 6.23. His then excelled in his next biggest test when Melbourne Stars signed him for the eighth edition of Big Bash League. The 18-year-old picked up eight wickets in just four matches.
He was retained by Delhi Daredevil for the 12th edition of Indian Premier League and was also picked up by Lahore Qalandars for PSL 2019. Lamichhane is a genuine wicket-taker and if he plays the entire tournament, he has every opportunity to finish as the top wicket-taker.
#1 Wahab Riaz
He may not be in the Pakistan team at the moment, but, Wahab Riaz is definitely one of best T20 bowlers in the world right now. Wahab Riaz is the most successful bowler in Pakistan Super League (PSL) history and also the all-time top wicket-taker in the tournament with 48 wickets in 32 matches.
The 33-year-old also finished on top of the wicket-taker chart last season with 18 wickets in 13 games at an economy rate of less than seven an over. Wahab Riaz will once again feature for Peshawar Zalmi in PSL 2019. Though they have Hasan Ali in their ranks, Wahab Riaz is expected to lead their bowling attack.
A genuine wicket-taker and an experienced campaigner, he possesses a good short ball and also has a lethal yorker in his armory. A player to watch out for in PSL 2019.