Naseem Shah has moved from Quetta Gladiators to Islamabad United in one of the most sensational trades of the PSL, ending weeks of speculation about his destination next season.
After a tussle in which at least three teams competed for his signing, United won out, ending the battle for one of the most in-demand fast bowlers in Pakistan cricket. In return, Abrar Ahmed and Mohammad Wasim Jnr have moved from United to Gladiators before the transfer window shuts.
Just days ago, Multan Sultans appeared to have beaten United to Naseem's signature, and ESPNcricinfo understands they were on the cusp of making an official statement announcing the move. However, United's interest in Naseem predated Sultans', and ended up outlasting it.
It's understood Naseem's move away from the Gladiators was partially influenced by the player pushing for the move himself after several frustrating years at the franchise. While the Gladiators were the most consistent team of the PSL over the first four years of its existence, reaching three finals and winning the title in 2019, it's been a dramatic reversal since. They are the only side to have missed out on the playoffs each of the last four years, finishing fifth twice, and propping up the table in the other two seasons. It has meant Naseem, who has only ever played for the Gladiators and made his debut in 2020, has never reached the playoff stages of the PSL in his career.
While Naseem is now recognised as a generational talent across formats in Pakistan, the PSL is yet to truly see evidence of that ability. His 29 matches have produced 26 wickets - nine of them in two individual games in 2022 - and his economy rate, strike rate, and average are all worse at the PSL than his T20 career in general.
It is not yet officially confirmed that Naseem will be fully fit for the start of the PSL after a shoulder injury that ruled him out of the final part of the Asia Cup and all of the World Cup. He will also miss Pakistan's tour of Australia and New Zealand, and is currently in the United Kingdom as he works his way back. While he is believed to be on track to ensure he is available for the PSL, this has not been officially confirmed.