About the Match
Zalmi defeated Gladiators in the last match to top the table with 10 points; they will now face off against Karachi Kings, who are placed 4th with only 4 points, on 17th February at Dubai. As the league stage comes to a finish, the Kings will make a last ditch effort to make it to qualifiers while Zalmi will be eager to continue with their winning momentum and finish on top. The upcoming contest will be closely fought by both sides and the team that can keep their nerves together and dominate in all departments will be better placed to win on Wednesday.
Zalmi registered an emphatic win against Gladiators by 8 wickets as Shahid Afridi demolished the opposition with his bowling figure of 5-7, one of his best performances witnessed in recent times; Wahab Riaz took 2 wickets while Junaid Khan and Mohammad Asghar took a wicket each to restrict Gladiators to a lowly 129 runs. The batsmen also put up a power-packed performance as Dawid Malan scored an unbeaten 60 while Mohammad Hafeez supported well with his 36 off 29 to reach the target with 8 balls to spare.
They are in good rhythm at present, winning matches with an all-round performance by batsmen and bowlers; their previous win against Karachi Kings by a narrow 3 runs definitely gives them the psychological advantage to do well again on Wednesday. In that game against Kings, Hafeez, Tamim Iqbal and Akmal had built the foundation to set up a 183-run target for the opponents, which the bowlers defended successfully thanks to a combined pace attack by Shaun Tait and Wahab Riaz.
Mohammad Asghar, Shahid Afridi, Riaz and Shaun Tait are in very good form and if the batsmen can yet again post a big total batting first, then surely they can succeed in this last league match.
Their dismal performance continued as the batsmen could muster only 128 runs batting first against Islamabad United; although Bopara and Mushfiqur Rahim scored 45 and 33 runs respectively, the others in the middle order couldn’t keep the scoreboard ticking. Shahzaib Hasan did well to post 27 off 19 deliveries but with players like Imad Wasim, James Vince, Shoaib Malik and Shakib Al Hasan failing to impress with the bat, they could only build a lowly total. The bowlers found it difficult to stifle the opposition despite Mohammad Amir, Sohail Khan, Bopara and Usama Mir taking regular wickets.
Against Gladiators too, they couldn’t come out all guns blazing and posted only 126 runs batting first, which was not enough against the hard-hitting opponents. Malik who had come in at No.2, did well to post a well-made 45 and Vince scored 23 runs, but the others failed to impress. The bowlers looked good as Usama Mir took 2-27 while Shakib and Imad took a wicket each but they couldn’t pull off a win.
The batting line-up has experienced players but they haven’t been able to build strong totals batting first; the last time they won against Qalandars, the top order and middle order batsmen had clicked well to post 178 runs and unless they repeat that performance, it will be difficult for them to make a comeback here.
Zalmi had won against Kings the last time they faced each other but they need to be cautious here. Karachi has excellent set of players rich in all-round skills who are capable of turning matches on their own. Peshawar, on the other hand, have specialists with Shahid Afridi who can win it with the ball as well as bat on any given day. Peshawar are currently in red-hot form and are leading the table with Quetta going neck-and-neck to them. While the contest could go down to the wire as is the nature of Cricket, we feel Zalmi have fared a lot better till now, and that, makes them more likely to win this match too