A handful of Pakistan’s premier players in the shortest format of the game domineered in 2020. Ranging from international cricket to franchise-based leagues and domestic-level competitions, Pakistan’s T20 stars were impactful everywhere. From the Big Bash League Down Under to the Vitality Blast on English soils to other comps around the globe, some of Pakistan’s finest were quite prevalent and made their mark felt. With two World T20s scheduled for next two years and an Asia Cup coming up later this year, Pakistan would look to bank on these players as the next crop of T20 players grooms and nourishes through the Pakistan Super League (PSL) circuit. In this article, we take a look at four Pakistan players who topped the format’s charts with both bat and ball.
Pakistan’s gun batsman and one of the most sought-after cricketers around the globe, Babar Azam, topped the batting charts in T20s in the year 2020. He was the most prolific run-getter, amassing 1242 runs in both international cricket and domestic T20 competitions. His highlight of the year came when he led his PSL franchise, Karachi Kings, to their maiden PSL title courtesy two sublime knocks in both the semi-final and the final of the tournament. Babar Azam stockpiled 473 runs in 12 games at a magnificent average of 59.12.
Babar Azam also had a short stint with Somerset in the Vitality Blast. While his 7 matches there were not that bountiful as far as the runs were concerned, the 26-year-old still managed to stitch together a sensational century for Somerset. Similarly, he was at the top of his game in T20Is, too, and averaged in excess of 55 in the 8 games that he featured in. He was unlucky to miss out on the three T20Is against New Zealand due to a thumb injury which subsequently kept him out of the Tests, as well.
Pakistan’s speedster, Haris Rauf, had a tremendous 2020 in the shortest format of the game, claiming 57 wickets in both international cricket as well as franchise-based leagues. Haris Rauf’s inclusion in Melbourne Stars for Big Bash League (BBL) 2019-20 proved to be a revolutionary one – both for the Glenn Maxwell-led team as well as Haris Rauf himself. He scalped 20 wickets in just 10 outings for the Stars at a staggering average of just over 13.
The 27-year-old speedster didn’t have a particularly good outing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). Representing Lahore Qalandars, Haris Rauf could only prey 10 scalps from the 8 games he played for the runners-up. However, he more than made it up for himself by bowling exceptionally well during the National T20 Cup and was the 2nd highest-wicket there. Apart from topping the T20 wickets charts, Haris Rauf also made a significant impact in T20Is and was one of Pakistan’s most impactful players of the year – his 16 wickets in the format being the 2nd highest behind Lungi Ngidi’s 17.
Veteran all-rounder, Mohammad Hafeez, silenced his detractors at the rear-end of 2020 when he overtook KL Rahul as the highest run-scorer in T20Is across the whole year. The 40-year-old annihilated the stereotypes surrounding aged cricketers playing T20 Cricket by striking the ball at more than 150 across 10 matches. His batting average (83.00) was, by far, the most impressive and he was miles ahead of his counterparts in that regard. While putting together this runs spree, Mohammad Hafeez also became the joint-highest run-getter for Pakistan in T20I Cricket – he is equalled with Shoaib Malik at 2,323 runs. Malik reached the landmark in 115 matches, while Hafeez reached the same milestone in 99 outings.
Shaheen Afridi’s prosperous 2020 proved to be a shining beacon for Pakistan’s national sides. Like his tall gangling frame that stretches six-and-a-half feet high, Shaheen’s stature has also been elevating in the international cricketing fraternity and this year it felt like he has finally come of age to spearhead Pakistan’s pace battery. The 20-year old wears a sweet, child-like smile and has a harmless demeanor about him but hides a very adept and aggressive fast-bowler behind all this apparent meekness. Shaheen was in red-hot form during the domestic competitions in 2020 and, at one point in time, became the highest wicket-taker across T20s in 2020.
He reigned the wicket columns of PSL V and the National T20 Cup, bolstering his T20 wickets in the year to a terrific 52. He also represented English county, Hampshire, in their Vitality Blast 2020 campaign. Shaheen Afridi conjured a bit of magic in what eventually turned out to be Hampshire’s first win of the season when he took four wickets in four consecutive deliveries in the match against Middlesex. In doing so, he became the first Pakistani to take four wickets on the trot in T20 Cricket.