Abu Dhabi, 24 June: Peshawar Zalmi will take on inaugural finalists Multan Sultans in the final of the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi today (Thursday).
‘‘It was a difficult route we took to the final but it’s a great feeling,’’ Peshawar Zalmi skipper Wahab Riaz said after a surprisingly easy eight-wicket win over Islamabad United in the 2nd Qualifier on Tuesday.Shahid Afridi expressed his feelings
On the other hand, Multan Sultans Monday made it to their maiden final by upsetting Islamabad United by 31 runs in the first Qualifier. ‘‘Wish you boys the best of luck for the finals!,’’ tweeted Shahid Afridi, former Pakistan captain who skipped the PSL this year.
Multan Sultans are first timers in the final, whereas Peshawar Zalmi have previously tasted the flavour of championship match thrice from 2017 to 2019, including lifting the silverware in front of the Gaddafi Stadium fans in 2017.
Both Sultans and Zalmi secured wins over Islamabad United in the play-offs to confirm their final clash.
Islamabad United, who had topped the points table with eight wins, lost their way at the business end of the tournament, suffering a 31-run loss to Sultans in Monday’s Qualifier, followed by an eight-wicket defeat to Zalmi on Tuesday evening in the Eliminator 2.
Mohammad Rizwan-led Sultans were languishing at fifth spot with just a win from five games when the tournament was suspended in Karachi on 4 March. However, the Abu Dhabi-leg has brought them an incredible change in their fortunes with them clinching five victories in six games, including the Qualifier victory over United.
They, thus, cemented their spot in the HBL PSL final for the first time in four attempts, Sultans were added as the sixth HBL PSL franchise from the 2018 edition; the first two editions had five teams.
Meanwhile, 2017 champions Peshawar Zalmi had a tough run leading up to the playoffs.
Wahab Riaz-led side lost three out of their five Abu Dhabi-leg matches, yet succeeded in maintaining a decent net run-rate that helped them secure third spot ahead of Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars who like Zalmi, finished the league-stage with 10 points. Zalmi knocked out the defending champions Kings by five wickets in Eliminator 1 in a gripping encounter that finished on the penultimate ball, before their overwhelming victory over United, which earned them their fourth HBL PSL final appearance.PSL 6 record heading into the final
Both sides have a 1-1 HBL PSL 6 record heading into the final. In the Karachi-leg, Zalmi chased down a 194-run target for the loss of four wickets with an over spare, courtesy Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s half-century and 48 from Imam-ul-Haq.
However, Sultans settled the score on 13 June in Abu Dhabi when they achieved an eight-wicket victory at the back of an unbeaten 82 off 56 balls by Rizwan and a 31-ball 61 by Sohaib Maqsood.
Ahead of the big final, both captains have set their sights on the glittering HBL PSL 6 trophy.Mohammad Rizwan statement
Mohammad Rizwan: “It is tough to name any individual, rather than naming any individual, I would like to stress that it has been a total team effort that has seen our remarkable turnaround from Karachi. What we learned in Karachi was that we were losing the games narrowly which meant that there were no major worries for us as a side.
“In Abu Dhabi, we came out with a great spirit as we had absolute clarity on the challenge ahead of us. We were able to gain momentum at the start and formed a solid combination that brought the change in our fortunes.
As a captain, I like to keep the plans simple and try and make the best use of the players in my squads whether he is a rookie or a legend, I am really happy with the response that I have got.
“Now in the final, we would want to keep our game plan simple and I am very hopeful that we would play with the same spirit, that is all that I will ask of my players, results are in the hands of the Almighty and we will only care about giving our absolute best.”Wahab Riaz statement
Wahab Riaz: “Since the beginning of the HBL Pakistan Super League, the Peshawar Zalmi side has played like a family. We believe in the Team mantra (Together Each Achieve More). This mantra is one of the reasons of our success.
“All our squad members and the team management of Mohammad Akram and Daren Sammy have a big part to play in our success. We play an aggressive brand of cricket and believe in taking the game to the opposition, we will play the final with the same frame of mind. Playing the fourth final for Zalmi and first as a captain is a huge honour for me and I would like to lead the team to glory tomorrow night against a formidable opponent, it should be a great occasion.”