Pakistan players do not feature in the Indian Premier League (IPL) due to the country’s strained political relations with India. Even in international cricket, the arch-rivals clash only in ICC events like the World Cup and Champions Trophy and in the Asia Cup, which is organized by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).
Pakistan players only featured in the inaugural edition of the Indian T20 league in 2008. Subsequently, they were barred from participation following the Mumbai terror attacks, which took place in the same year. Some Pakistan cricketers did manage to make an impact in the only edition they featured in.
Left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir was in fact the leading wicket-taker in the inaugural edition, claiming 22 wickets in 11 matches for the champions Rajasthan Royals (RR) with a best of 6/14.
Umar Gul picked up 12 wickets in six matches for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Among the batters, Salman Butt smashed 193 runs in seven games for KKR with a best of 73.
While Pakistan cricketers are unlikely to feature in the IPL anytime in the near future, we undertake an interesting exercise, predicting five current Pakistani players who would have been a big hit at the IPL 2023 Auction.
Pakistan’s left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi is currently sidelined from international cricket due to injury and fitness issues. Had he been available for the IPL 2023 auction, he would have been among the big draws.
The 22-year-old fast bowler is arguably the best left-arm seamer across formats in international cricket right now. He can trouble batters with pace and bounce even in the T20 format. Indians know a thing or two about his deadly yorkers.
Even half-fit Afridi made a massive impact in the T20 World Cup 2022. He claimed 11 wickets in seven matches, with most of them coming towards the second half of the tournament, as Pakistan overcame a horrendous start to finish as runners-up.
All-rounder Shadab Khan is someone who can be described as a good T20 packagleg-spinneranny leg-spinner, who is very handy with the bat and is a decent fielder as well. These attributes came in very useful for Pakistan during the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Shadab was one of the star performers for the team, claiming 11 wickets in seven matches at an average of 15. He had a brilliant all-round game in the must-win match against South Africa, smacking 52 off 22 and then picking up two wickets.
The 24-year-old has had an exceptional T20 career so far. In 220 matches, he has claimed 251 wickets at an average of 22.60 and an excellent economy rate of 7.22. On the batting front, he has scored 2030 runs at a strike rate of 138.
Pakistani pacer Haris Rauf has been unarguably one of the most improved fast bowlers in international cricket over the last year and a half. He has always had the talent, but in recent times, he has delivered to potential more often than not.
Rauf has been among the team’s best bowlers in consecutive T20 World Cups. In the 2021 edition in the UAE, he claimed eight scalps in six games at an average of 21 and an economy of 7.30.
In the tournament that was played in Australia earlier this year, he again picked up eight wickets in seven games, averaging 22.25 with an economy of 6.84.
The 29-year-old has done an admirable job for Pakistan, with Afridi being in and out due to injury. He has that extra pace and the experience of having played in the BBL as well for the Melbourne Stars.
In 141 T20 matches, Rauf has 188 wickets to his name at a wonderful strike rate of 16.3.
Raw pace with talent is something IPL franchises are always on the lookout for. These attributes would have made Naseem Shah a big draw at the IPL 2023 auction.
The 19-year-old won hearts by bowling despite cramping up during his debut T20I – a high-voltage clash against India in the Asia Cup.
Although Pakistan ended up losing the group clash in Dubai, Shah made a massive impact, knocking over KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav with quick deliveries.
He then gave another demonstration of his X-factor during the same tournament, this time with the bat, hitting two consecutive sixes to stun Afghanistan in a closely-contested game.
Shah did not have a great T20 World Cup 2022 campaign, where his inexperience came to the fore. However, he did display glimpses of brilliance and he is definitely someone to watch out for in the near future.
Mohammad Haris was picked in Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad as one of the standby players. However, with Fakhar Zaman being ruled out due to injury, Babar Azam and Co. were forced to draft rookie Haris into the playing XI.
The 21-year-old’s unexpected inclusion proved to be a blessing in disguise as Haris came in with no baggage. He adopted a refreshing no-holds-barred approach with the bat and ended up playing a significant role in Pakistan’s sensational turnaround in fortunes in the T20 World Cup.
The right-handed batter stunned South Africa with 28 off 11, followed it up with 31 off 18 against Bangladesh, and cracked 30 off 26 in the semi-final contest against New Zealand before faltering in the final versus England.
Given his daredevil style of batting, he would have attracted IPL franchises as well as fans!
Also Read: 3 players who teams could buy back for a lesser price at the IPL 2023 Auction
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