HBL PSL final: Will Gladiators be third time lucky?
Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators will lock horns for the fourth time this season. However the stakes this time are much higher, as it is the final of HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) season four.
Zalmi and Gladiators finished as the top 2 teams in the group stage. Gladiators stormed their way into the final after beating Zalmi in the first qualifier, whereas Zalmi had to beat defending champions Islamabad United in eliminator two, to make their way into the final.
In the three meetings between Zalmi and Gladiators this season, Gladiators outplayed Zalmi in two of them, by chasing the target rather easily.
The Sarfaraz-led unit have easily been the best chasing side this season as they have a 6-0 win-loss record in run-chases.
However, their last meeting in the first qualifier was a pretty close affair, as Quetta managed to sneak a 10-run win in the end, which sets up perfectly for a nail-biting final at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday, 17 March.
Team Head to Head
Overall: Matches – 13, Quetta Gladiators won – 7, Peshawar Zalmi won – 5, NR -1
This Season -3, Gladiators won – 3, Zalmi – 0
Players to watch out:
Shane Watson is known for performing at the big stage, as he has played match winning knocks in the 2018 IPL Final as well as in the 2009 Champions Trophy final. Quetta will be pinning their hopes on him to continue his rich vein of form and finish as the leading run-scorer in PSL this season.
Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal have also revived their careers with crucial knocks at different stages of the tournament and will be looking to finish the season on a high.
Quetta gladiators have depended on the spin-twins, Fawad Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz along with the experienced Sohail Tanvir, to restrict oppositions to manageable targets. They will be sweating on the progress of Fawad Ahmed’s recovery from his injury.
Emerging star, Mohammad Hasnain has also breathed fresh air in the bowling line-up of Quetta gladiators, with his pace grabbing wickets and headlines.
Although Sarfaraz Ahmed has lost the PSL final twice, his record in winning big tournaments such as the under-19 World cup and 2017 Champions trophy will inspire confidence in Gladiator ranks.
Similarly, Daren Sammy is also an inspirational leader, who has not only led West Indies to World T20 title twice, but has also won the PSL title with Peshawar Zalmi in 2017.
Kamran Akmal didn’t have a great start to the tournament, but eventually came to his own and is now among the top five leading run-scorers of this season.
Imamul Haq was selected as the 21st player by Zalmi, after being ignored in the initial draft. He has eventually proved his critics wrong by being the leading run-scorer (338 runs) for Zalmi this season.
Peshawar has largely relied on their pace-heavy bowling attack this season, which has paid dividends for them. Hasan Ali is on the top of the most wicket-takers chart with 25 wickets, whereas Wahab riaz is third on that list with 16 wickets.
The batting and bowling prowess of Zalmi has been supported by the all-round skills of Kieron Pollard and Chris Jordan who have also made important contributions at the crucial moments.
Gladiators and Zalmi have previously squared off against each other in the final of the PSL 2, where Zalmi emerged victorious. Although Quetta were depleted by the absence of their regular foreign players, as they refused to travel to Lahore.
With all foreign players available this time around, Gladiators will be looking to avenge the defeat in PSL 2 and get their hands on their maiden PSL title.
Peshawar Zalmi: Kamran Akmal, Imamul Haq, Umar Amin, Misbahul Haq, Kieron Pollard, Nabi Gul, Daren Sammy, Chris Jordan, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Tymal Mills
Quetta Gladiators: Shane Watson, Ahmed Shehzad, Ahsan Ali, Rilee Rossouw, Umar Akmal, Dwayne Bravo, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Fawad Ahmed, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Hasnain.