“If a team of the best players from the Indian Premier League faced a team made-up of the best players from the Pakistan Super League, the PSL team would win,” Abdul Razzaq said recently.
The Indian T20 League has set the benchmark for other T20 franchise leagues over the years and as such this comment seems way off the mark.
But then, the PSL has produced some stirring players too, so let's not ridicule the comment altogether without analysing what a combined XI might look like since it would give a fair idea of which league is stronger.
Contenders: Shane Watson, David Warner, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Suresh Raina, Kamran Akmal, Babar Azam, Ahmed Shehzad
There are several batting contenders vying for a place in the top four or top five of the combined XI. Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli are clear GOATs based on their Indian T20 League record and there is no substituting them in this XI. AB de Villiers, for his incredible record in the tournament, and impact performances is also a no-brainer.
David Warner has been on fire in the Indian T20 League and has 848, 641 and 692 runs in his last three seasons. Shane Watson is the only real contender from the PSL side in the batting group. With 1114 runs at an average of 33.75 in 37 games, Watson also has a strike rate of 135.03 in the PSL. In the Indian league, his average is a touch lower while his strike rate is super impressive. But does he beat India's own Gayle to the starting XI? Unlikely.
Batting group: Chris Gayle, David Warner, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Suresh Raina.
It's MS Dhoni vs Kamran Akmal or Sarfaraz Ahmed. Who are we kidding? Moving on.
Wicket-keeper: MS Dhoni. He is certainly also the captain of this combined XI.
Contenders: Dwayne Bravo, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Nawaz, Andre Russell
The all-rounders have a significant impact in short format games and at least two in a side should squeeze through. Dwayne Bravo is one of the best T20 players going around and has been for a while and his IPL record - 1483 runs and 147 wickets - speak for itself.
Andre Russell vs Mohammad Nawaz is a tricky choice for Nawaz brings more bowling potential but the West Indies all-rounder is a freaky match-winner and almost a GOAT in T20s in the last two years. Nawaz has 43 wickets - third most - and an economy under 7 but his batting isn't top drawer or in the Russell zone. As such the West Indian cuts it.
All-rounders: Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell
Contenders: Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Sami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Amir
There are no two ways about picking Lasith Malinga and Wahab Riaz in the bowling group. Amit Mishra cuts it for his stupendous longevity in the league and also owing to a lack of competition from PSL players. There could also be a case made for Hasan Ali over Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the XI given a strike rate of 15.6 over the years. With Riaz and Malinga alongside Bravo available for the death, Hasan can man the opening and middle overs.
Bowlers: Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Lasith Malinga, Amit Mishra
Chris Gayle, David Warner, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Lasith Malinga, Amit Mishra
That's a grand total of two PSL players with nine cutting it from the Indian T20 League. Even the slightly debatable spots have been given in favour of PSL players. This sums up how delusional Razzaq's statements are.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Asif Hassan, Prakash Singh