Analysis: Why Lahore Qalanders are failing in PSL 2018

6th March 2018.


One of the beauties of the draft systems applied across many of the T20 franchise leagues is that it creates a very even playing field among teams, which enables teams with astute recruitment strategies to gain a big competitive advantage over their rivals.  However, by definition, this also means that teams with worse recruitment will struggle to compete.  The reason for a high percentage of team failures in T20 can be found at the door of poor recruitment and team selection, although as yet, with many T20 leagues still being relatively new, not enough pressure is put on both the team owners, coaches, or captains, when things go wrong.

This pressure should be even more prevalent across leagues where more than 50% of teams qualify for the end of season playoffs, as has been the case in the PSL.  In fact, a random team would have had just a 4% chance of coming bottom in both the previous editions of the PSL, where four of the five teams qualified.  That fate has actually happened to the Lahore Qalanders, so with such a low chance of a random team managing this ignominy, it's worth looking at why they are again struggling (0 wins from 5 matches) in the PSL 2018.

1) Star batsman Chris Lynn got injured.  It's probably reasonable to put this down to bad luck to a certain extent, but it's worth noting that cricket analyst, Freddie Wilde, had this to say about the Australian batsman:-


With this in mind, T20 franchises should be factoring in Lynn's injury history prior to signing him, which looks a considerable gamble, particularly in conjunction with his lower strike rate against spin bowling, which he would have faced plenty of in the PSL.

2) Captain Brendon McCullum.  There is little doubt that McCullum has been one of the pioneers of T20, but his talents look to be on the wane, particularly in the subcontinent.  In the last two years, McCullum is averaging a mediocre 23.40 in the subcontinent (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan) compared to a strong 32.18 in other countries.  Furthermore, I created this radar which shows his strike rate issues against spin in the subcontinent - something which is in plentiful supply in the PSL.

With such data - a strike rate below 120 against spin in the subcontinent is not impressive at all - subcontinent franchises should be considering whether McCullum is a good fit for their needs.  This season in the PSL, McCullum is striking at below 70 against spin bowling.

3) Wicket-keeping.  Three wicket-keepers have made the starting eleven so far - Umar Akmal, Gulraiz Sadaf and Dinesh Ramdin.  There was a great deal of criticism surrounding Akmal's performance behind the stumps in the opening match of the PSL, but my pre-tournament data has him as the best batsman of the trio by far:-

Lahore Qalanders

Overseas/Domestic

Expected PSL Batting Average

Expected PSL Batting Strike Rate

Boundary Hitting %

Balls Per Boundary







Umar Akmal (WK)

DOMESTIC

32.78

133.41

18.10

5.52

Gulraiz Sadaf (WK)

DOMESTIC

21.38

103.24

14.78

6.77

Denesh Ramdin (WK)

OVERSEAS

25.55

120.20

13.66

7.32


Even with Akmal's keeping being questionable, it's tough to think that either rival's keeping value would be greater than their worse batting expectation.  Gulraiz Sadaf's expected strike rate of 103.24 is one of the worst in the PSL, and his innings of 13(31) was one of the most negative expectation T20 innings of 2018 so far.  Ramdin's expected batting data is better than Sadaf's, but the West Indian keeper takes up a valuable overseas player berth, constricting options in other areas, which is a factor which also must be considered when assessing the value of a player to the team.

4) An inability to chase targets.  This is nothing new for Lahore, as their combined 2016/17 scoring data illustrates:-

We can see that in the last two years, they've been dismal chasing, managing just 18.35 runs per wicket and 7.62 runs per over batting second.  That data won't win them many matches at all, and also demonstrates that the collapses that they've exhibited this season are nothing new whatsoever.

5) Poor performances from emerging players.  Shaheen Afridi and Salman Irshad's combined bowling figures read 12 overs, 128 runs, 1 wicket.  Averaging just 2.4 overs per match, they are being hidden to some extent, and although media reports are quite favourable towards Irshad, it's worth noting that his previous figures in T20 were also unimpressive, so it would require big improvement for our algorithm to suggest he'd be included in the Lahore team on merit alone.

6) A lack of batting depth.  This relates closely to their inability to chase targets, but with decent recruitment and selection, this doesn't need to be the case.  Qalanders needed an injury replacement for an overseas player, and with Lynn out, and their batting misfiring, it's reasonable to assume that they'd have recruited a quality overseas batsman to shore up their misfiring batting order.  Instead, quite incredibly, they picked Kyle Abbott, a below-average T20 bowler.

Prior to PSL 2018, we ran our unique expected performance algorithm on all the squads, and this was the data generated for the Lahore Qalanders:-

Lahore Qalanders

Overseas/Domestic

Expected PSL Batting Average

Expected PSL Batting Strike Rate

Boundary Hitting %

Balls Per Boundary

Expected PSL Bowling Average

Expected PSL Bowling Economy

Expected PSL Bowling Strike Rate










Cameron Delport

OVERSEAS

27.33

133.68

18.10

5.52

23.11

7.69

18.03

Fakhar Zaman

DOMESTIC

23.82

122.15

16.00

6.25

N/A

N/A

N/A

Brendon McCullum

OVERSEAS

24.57

133.06

26.65

3.75

N/A

N/A

N/A

Sohail Akhtar

DOMESTIC

34.70

151.52

25.53

3.92

49.56

10.67

27.87

Chris Lynn

OVERSEAS

49.33

145.55

21.27

4.70

N/A

N/A

N/A

Aamer Yamin

DOMESTIC

24.75

123.23

22.64

4.42

31.57

8.95

21.16

Bilal Asif

DOMESTIC

22.08

102.51

12.79

7.82

22.00

8.34

15.83

Anton Devcich

OVERSEAS

31.26

132.08

23.01

4.35

27.59

8.39

19.73

Umar Akmal (WK)

DOMESTIC

32.78

133.41

18.10

5.52

N/A

N/A

N/A

Gulraiz Sadaf (WK)

DOMESTIC

21.38

103.24

14.78

6.77

N/A

N/A

N/A

Sohail Khan

DOMESTIC

15.36

124.74

11.11

9.00

21.46

8.31

15.49

Sunil Narine

OVERSEAS

15.88

143.54

26.15

3.82

28.17

6.34

26.66

Yasir Shah

DOMESTIC

8.18

77.75

10.77

9.29

27.00

6.91

23.44

Ghulam Mudassar

DOMESTIC

6.58

99.42

N/A

N/A

58.21

12.39

28.19

Mitchell McClenaghan

OVERSEAS

5.69

114.02

15.48

6.46

30.43

8.58

21.28

Raza Hasan

DOMESTIC

13.10

82.15

N/A

N/A

32.02

7.03

27.33

Mustafizur Rahman

OVERSEAS

4.03

53.51

N/A

N/A

21.76

6.95

18.79

Shaheen Afridi

DOMESTIC

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Imran Khan

DOMESTIC

3.45

50.16

N/A

N/A

30.30

8.55

21.26

Agha Salman

DOMESTIC

22.54

127.34

16.42

6.09

19.17

7.39

15.56

Denesh Ramdin (WK)

OVERSEAS

25.55

120.20

13.66

7.32

N/A

N/A

N/A



Without Lynn, the batting looks brittle, with just Cameron Delport, Sohail Ahktar, Anton Devcich, Umar Akmal and Denesh Ramdin with expected averages in excess of 25, and squads with such deficiencies must ensure they have above-average batting depth to cover for such issues.  Sunil Narine opening, or batting as a non-tail ender also adds to this issue.  He has the potential to change a match single handedly with the bat (as well as his superb bowling) but frequently gets out quickly (we profiled his batting here) and players with these tendencies also increase the necessity to add batting depth.

With this in mind, our algorithm generated the following team pre-tournament, with batting depth an absolute pre-requisite - batting order subject to game state:-

Brendon McCullum (OS), Sunil Narine (OS), Chris Lynn (OS), Cameron Delport (OS), Fakhar Zaman, Aamer Yamin, Sohail Akhtar, Umar Akmal (WK), Agha Salman, Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah.

Delport is likely to be absent from the tournament following a personal tragedy, so Anton Devcich, with similar data, can easily cover for his absence.  There are four main bowlers - Narine, Salman (who has been considerably under-bowled so far), Sohail Khan and Yasir Shah, with Devcich, Fakhar Zaman, Aamer Yamin and even Sohail Akhtar able to contribute as 5th and 6th bowlers.  We do lack an emerging bowler, so an adjustment may have to have been made (in for Lynn, perhaps) but it illustrates how it is easy to transform an under-performing squad's batting depth.  Mustafizur would unlucky to miss out, particularly as he looks to be getting back to somewhere near his best, but improving Lahore's batting is such a priority here.

We also adhere to the statistical mantra for the BPL and PSL that domestic bowlers perform so much better, relative to the tournament mean figures, than domestic batsmen, doing so with four overseas batsmen/all-rounders included.

If this article has given you insight into the data that Sports Analytics Advantage can offer cricket franchises around the world in formulating draft or auction plans, please feel free to enquire for bespoke draft and auction strategies via sportsanalyticsadvantage@gmail.com.
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