DUBAI: The last day of the second edition of the Pakistan Super League in the desert anticipates more drama and promises an enthralling contest to decide the finalists of the event. As Pakistna’s Twenty20 league is going to become Pakistani for first time since its inception, the third play-off between Peshawar Zalmi and Karachi Kings today at Dubai Cricket Stadium provides a last opportunity of this season to the cricket enthusiasts of the country living in United Arab Emirates and has been forecasted as a full house show on the offer. Zalmi are in a familiar spot of bother second year in the running and there players needed to become more resilient and handle the pressure situation better if they wanted to make it to the final this time around. Last year, they had been exited at the same stage when they succumbed to a defiant knock of Sharjeel Khan and lost the right to play final to Islamabad United, the eventual winners of the inaugural league. On the other hand, after a topsy-turvy second year in the running, Karachi Kings have started showing the champions mentality whenthey found them on the brink. Three consecutive victories under huge pressure situation have raised their confidence that can be described as sky-rocketing one. The real difference between two sides can be seen from the fact that Karchi outfit havs clicked at the right moment and momentum while Peshawar Zalmi are still struggling to keep up the things. Zalmi regroup after an agonising one-run loss against Quetta Gladiators who secured a direct berth in the final set to be played in Pakistan. Chasing a target of 201, Peshawar produced a monumental batting performance before imploding in the final over in which they needed seven runs for a historic win in the first playoff on Tuesday.
However, they live to fight another day against Kings who sent defending champions Islamabad United packing from the tournament with a 44-run win as they defended what looked like a below par 126 run first innings score in the second playoff on Wednesday. So Zalmi will be on guard against Kings, who are peaking at the right time, to avoid the disaapointment of last year. The winner will join Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League final on Sunday. Both the teams underwent vigoous training at the Dubai Cricket Stadium as no one wanted to bow out without a fight. Former Zalmi captain, Shahid Afridi hoped things would be different this time. “We know the importance of this match and we want to play the final and win the trophy, so we are aiming to cross the first hurdle against a dangerous Karachi side, who have now got a good rhythm,” he said. Talking about Zalmi’s recent match-up against Quetta Gladiators in Dubai, Afridi said that despite losing the last-ball thriller against Gladiators, his team was pumped for the all-important third play-off against the Kings. “I give Muhammad Nawaz full credit for his performance under pressure. He bowled three yorkers deliveries at important moments and handed the win to Quetta Gladiators,” Afridi said. Afridi added that almost all Zalmi players are back in form, which is a good sign ahead of the tough match-up against the Kings. “Every player in our team knows their role and we are ready to face Karachi Kings in the playoff. Young players are also performing,” Afridi added. “We need not commit the same mistakes that we did against Quetta in the last game and need to be at our best.” Karachi are also eyeing a spot in the final, having lost to Islamabad, the eventual champions, in the eliminator last year. They lost one game against Peshawar by seven wickets in Dubai, but won the return game in Sharjah by nine runs. All the top notches in the PSL charts are from Karachi with Babar Azam the leading scorer, Sohail Khan the leading wicket-taker, Kieron Pollard the best fielder snd Kumar Sangakara the best wicketkeeper. Man of the match against Islamabad United ImadWasim said they were close to add winning chemistry to their squad.“We are getting there in terms of winning and putting the best combination. We will be at our best on Friday as we know that’s the last hurdle before the final.”
KARACHI KINGS: Babar Azam, Chris Gayle, Kumar Sangakkara (c&wk), Shoaib Malik, Ravi Bopara, Kieron Pollard, Imad Wasim, Sohail Khan, Mohammad Amir, Usama Mir, Usman Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Mohsin, Mahela Jayawardene, Kashif Bhatti, Khurram Manzoor, Ryan McLaren, Rahat Ali, Saifullah Bangash, Shahzaib Hasan
PESHAWAR ZALMI: DJG Sammy (capt), DJ Malan, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, MN Samuels, Haris Sohail, Shahid Afridi, CJ Jordan, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Asghar, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, EJG Morgan, Imran Khan (1), Sohaib Maqsood.