Karachi Kings set for vengeance against champions United


It’s about time West Indian power-hitter Chris Gayle slogs for sixes all around the ground. It’s about time Sri Lankan veterans Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara put on display the most stylish of their strokes. It’s about time Mohammad Amir runs through the opponent line-up with his blistering pace.

It’s time for the Karachi Kings to roar as fiercely and as loud as possible.

With the stars they have got on their disposal,  the Kings just cannot let defending champions Islamabad United tame them yet again when the sides clash in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) second qualifying final at Sharjah on Wednesday.

The Kings lost to United in the corresponding fixture of the inaugural edition of the league which the former lost by nine wickets.

However, this year , the Karachi side have performed much better in the league stages — clinching third position — and are in top form having won their last two matches — against Lahore Qalandars and United.

Gayle, who started off his PSL 2017 campaign poorly, struck form in the last league match of the competition, scoring 44 off 17 balls — an innings that included five sixes.

“It has been a low-scoring tournament for me from a personal point of view, and sometimes these things do happen,” Gayle said during the post-match press conference.

“Hopefully this is the start a new beginning for PSL and I can build on this. We have another opportunity against the same team, and I am looking forward to that,” added the Jamaican.

Gayle, now, must capitalise on this ‘beginning’ and take his team right to the end of the tournament and help the Kings decorate on their heads the crown that is the PSL 2017 trophy.

However, the clash against United is going to a high-pressure encounter, as the losing team packs their bags and flies back home.

The pressure-handling jobs will be carried out by the Pakistan Test Captain Misbah-ul-Haq and former Sri Lanka skipper Sangakkara for United and Kings respectively.

The veterans have loads of experience of carrying such responsibilities on their shoulders and it is to be seen tonight who of the both has got the stronger nerves.

Kieron Pollard, who led the Kings to a memorable victory against Lahore Qalandars last week, will have to play a key role once again along with support from in-form starlet Babar Azam and England international Ravi Bopara.

Karachi also boast the services of Sohail Khan, the highest wicket-taker of the league. With 14 scalps under his belt this season, the pacer is expected to strike gold again against United in the must win encounter.

Islamabad United, in contrast to the Kings, do not feel the most confident at this time but will be looking to perform when it matters the most, as they did last season.

United, however, had big-hitting opener Sharjeel Khan ripped off their roster following match-fixing allegations on the southpaw. He was their main man in their title triumph last year.

Dwayne Smith, the tournament’s highest run-getter has tried his best to fill the void with 266 runs in eight outings.

The Sharjah wicket, where almost 400 runs were scored last night in the first qualifying final between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, is expected to be a heaven for batsman once again, and with it’s short boundaries, the historical venue is set to provide the spectators with a lot of entertainment.

Teams (probable):

Karachi Kings:

Babar Azam, Chris Gayle, Kumar Sangakkara, Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Bopara, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Usama Mir, Usman Khan

Islamabad United:

Dwayne Smith, Ben Duckett, Hussain Talat, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Shadab Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Irfan, Rumman Raees, Saeed Ajmal