By Ahmed Khawaja

One of the principal aims of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) was to find & prepare homegrown talent with the ability to handle the pressure & rigours of top level cricket. With two editions of HBL PSL gone by, it has already paid rich dividends with the emergence of young stars like Hassan Ali, Rumman Raees, Fakhar Zaman & Shadab Khan making their presence felt on the international stage.

Hassan Ali first caught the eye with his hostile, attacking bowling in HBL PSL one as an Emerging player for the Peshawar Zalmi franchise. He soon debuted for Pakistan in the 2016 ODI series in England, and has never looked back since. In 20 ODIs he has 39 wickets at an incredible average of 23.9, with two 5 wicket hauls already to his name. His deceptive use of cutters & slower balls also shows a maturity & understanding of the game beyond his tender age, and as the world has since discovered with his outstanding match winning performances at the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.

An impressive haul of 12 wickets in 7 matches for Islamabad United in HBL PSL two saw left-armer pacer Rumman Raees get a call-up to the Pakistan T20 team. His shrewd & deceptive bowling has seen him make rapid strides, and his fortunate call-up to the ODI team saw him deliver a stellar performance in the semifinal clash against England at the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.

Consistent performance & dedication saw dashing left-hand batsman Fakhar Zaman get his opportunity with the Lahore Qalandars franchise, and the 27 year old from Mardan has made it count. He was the top rungetter for the Qalandars in PSL2, smashing 177 runs in 8 matches at a rapid strike-rate of 138.2. He has proved himself to be a player for the big stage when he made his ODI debut against South Africa in the 2017 Champions Trophy, and immediately putting the high class Protea pace attack to the sword in a must win game for Pakistan. Half-centuries vs Sri Lanka & in the semi-final vs England have seen his international career begin with a flyer, and the best is surely yet to come.

Arguably the most exciting young player in world cricket, lion-hearted leg-spinner Shadab Khan was the biggest discovery of HBL PSL two. The 18 year old from Mianwali was irresistible with his attacking leg-spin, electrifying fielding & hard-hitting batting for Islamabad United, and was immediately fast-tracked into the Pakistan T20, ODI & Test squads. Ten wickets in 4 T20 matches along with two Man of the Match awards against the 2016 WT20 champions West Indies saw his international career start with a bang, and Shadab has quickly emerged as a key bowler & match winner for Pakistan.

With the HBL PSL expansion to a six team competition taking place as the Multan franchise enters the fray in 2018, there is no doubt that more talented young guns from Pakistan will emerge & make their mark at the highest level.