The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been a flagship T20 tournament since its inception in 2008. Over the years, the tournament has witnessed many nail-biting finishes and some crunch performances by the players.
Though the inaugural edition of IPL saw players from all parts of the world, including Pakistan, taking part in the IPL, the same hasn’t been the case after Pakistan players were banned by the IPL governing council from playing in the tournament.
Due to political differences between the country, several players from across the border have failed to get exposure to playing in the biggest T20 league. The addition of Pakistani players will not only increase the viewership but will also make IPL more competitive.
Having said that, here are 8 Pakistan players who can lead IPL franchises:
1. Shahid Afridi (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Despite not playing international cricket, Shahid Afridi has kept himself fit enough to be part of some of the T20 teams across the world. Having captained Pakistan across all formats, he has plenty of experience and knows how to handle pressure situations.
Afridi featured in the inaugural season of IPL where he was part of the now-dissolved Deccan Chargers franchise. Considering the amount of experience he has, he can lead Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) who are going through a captaincy turmoil.
2. Imad Wasim (Punjab Kings)
Imad Wasim has plenty of international as well as franchise cricket experience. In terms of leadership, Imad has already captained the senior and U19 team of Pakistan. The all-rounder is also leading Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
In fact, he guided Karachi to their first-ever PSL title last season. Imad will be a great buy for Punjab Kings since they don’t have a world-class all-rounder and he can also make a difference if he leads the team.
3. Shoaib Malik (SunRisers Hyderabad)
Despite playing cricket for more than two decades, Shoaib Malik is not showing any signs of slowing down. Mainly a batting all-rounder, Malik can stabilise the innings and also finish it off when needed.
He is also one of the few Pakistani players to have played in the IPL, having plied his trade for Delhi Daredevils (now Capitals) in 2008. He also has plenty of captaincy experience in international and other levels of cricket.
4. Mohammad Hafeez (Rajasthan Royals)
One of the most respected and decorated players of Pakistan, Mohammad Hafeez is the leading run-scorer for Pakistan, fourth overall, in the shortest format of the game. The veteran all-rounder has previously featured in IPL, where he represented the Kolkata Knight Riders.
With more than 100 T20I appearances, Hafeez will provide much-needed stability to the Rajasthan Royals with both bat and ball. Since he has already captained Pakistan, Hafeez has all the qualifications to successfully lead the Royals.
5. Babar Azam (Chennai Super Kings)
Still just 26, Babar Azam is already the third-highest run-getter for Pakistan in T20I cricket. He is currently leading the national team across all three formats. He is also the vice-captain of Karachi Kings and was named player of the tournament last season in the PSL.
Babar is a long term captaincy option and can be the perfect replacement for MS Dhoni, who is in the twilight of his career. He will also provide a much-needed boost to CSK’s middle-order that has been inconsistent, to say the least.
6. Sarfaraz Ahmed (Mumbai Indians)
Veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed has plenty of captaincy experience. A former skipper of Pakistan, Sarfaraz guided Quetta Gladiators to their first and only PSL title so far in 2019.
Apart from his captaincy, Sarfaraz is a handy middle-order batsman who can help Mumbai Indians largely. He would a great addition to their squad. His leadership skills can also be utilized by the franchise.
7. Wahab Riaz (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Wahab Riaz is known for his fearful pace and swing. Apart from being a world-class fast bowler, Wahab can also be a handy batsman at times. The 35-year-old has ample experience and has featured in several T20 leagues across the globe.
In 2020, he was appointed as captain of the Peshawar Zalmi. Under Wahab, the Zalmi qualified for the playoffs season but could not end it on a high note. He can be KKR’s ‘X’ factor as they lack a world-class left-arm fast bowler. His captaincy skills will also be a great boost for the team.
8. Shadab Khan (Delhi Capitals)
Shadab Khan has been a regular member of the Pakistan cricket team across formats. Still just 22, Shadab has established himself as one of the leading voice in a young Pakistani dressing room.
Last year, he captained the national team for the first time during the T20 series against New Zealand. He has been touted to lead the team in future by many former Pakistan players. His bowling skills and captaincy skills will be a massive boost for Delhi Capitals.