About the Match
It will be a repeat of the first qualifier game of PSL 2017, when the two finalists Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators lock horns for the title clash at Lahore on 5th March. Playing for the first time in the home country, the PSL franchises will be well prepared to awe their fans; although some international players have pulled out due to the shift in venue, the final match will be no less entertaining. Zalmi defeated Karachi Kings in the 3rd Qualifier by 24 runs to stay alive and show immense determination to avenge their previous defeat against Gladiators. Both sides have fought well to reach this stage and we expect some major fireworks across the park on Sunday.
A sensational 104 off just 65 deliveries by opener Kamran Akmal set the foundation for a Zalmi win in the 3rd Qualifying Final against Karachi Kings. The wicketkeeper-batsman hit 7 sixes and 6 boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking; along with useful contributions by Dawid Malan and Marlon Samuels, they reached 181 runs batting first. Speedsters Wahab Riaz and Chris Jordan then pulled out a special performance, taking 3 wickets each to stifle the Kings’ chase and defend the target successfully. They are a sharp bunch of bowlers, who can pose a challenge here too.
The batting line-up has in-form players like Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi too, who had scored 77 and 34 runs respectively in the previous qualifier against Gladiators, and can try to stabilize the innings from the middle. The bowling department also has spinners like Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi, who have consistently provided breakthroughs this year.
Overall, they are a strong side consisting of experienced batsmen, all-rounders and result-oriented bowlers, who will leave no stone unturned to lift the trophy.
The team faces a crisis as most international players pulled out of the finals due to shifting of the venue to Pakistan; in-form members like Kevin Pietersen, Rilee Rossouw, Luke Wright, fast-bowler TS Mills and spinner all-rounder Nathan McCullum have all quit the tournament and this could affect the Gladiators’ game on Sunday. However, they have the option of picking a fresh bunch of foreign players and with other domestic players remaining in the team, the Gladiators would be ready to come out with all their firepower for the title clash.
Ahmed Shehzad returned to form as he posted a superb 71 off 38 in the last match against Zalmi, and will be eager to build a solid foundation along with others like Sarfraz Ahmed, who has been in good nick with the bat. They had posted a gigantic total of 200 against Zalmi previously, and could do well again whether batting first or during chase.
Spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who had claimed 3-51 in that match to help them win by 1 run, will lead the attack and with help from others like Hasan Khan, Zulfiqar Babar and Saad Nasim, Gladiators can truly pack a punch to the opponents. Speedsters like Anwar Ali add depth to the attack and if they have a strong total to defend, could once again prove to be a tough nut to crack here.
Gladiators have lost some of the smoking guns but will surely regroup to field some of the best in the game and put up a tough fight. However, we feel that Peshwar Zalmi with the mix of maverick all-rounders and in-form batting line-up, has an upper hand here to win the trophy