Last year’s finalists Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators come face to face for the first time in the Pakistan Super League’s third edition as both teams look to consolidate their positions on the points table in the only match at Sharjah stadium on Thursday.
Defending champions Peshawar Zalmi, who beat the Quetta Gladiators in the final at Lahore last year, need a victory as they have lost to Multan Sultans by five wickets and to Karachi Kings by the same margin of wickets. Their only win came against Islamabad United by 34 runs.
Zalmi are still missing their wicket-taking bowler Hasan Ali who is nursing an ankle injury sustained in New Zealand in January while their Bangladeshi opener Tamim iqbal will leave for Sri Lanka after today’s match.
Zalmi will once again look to Tamim and Kamran Akmal to give them a solid platform for a big total to stop Quetta who recorded their second win in three matches on Wednesday, with their key batsman Kevin Pietersen showing return to form with a brisk 34-ball 48.
For Quetta Gladiators, Mohammad Nawaz is playing a dual role, checking the flow of runs with his accurate left-arm spin and then scoring at pace through his left-handed batting, providing Quetta the edge they needed.
Zalmi were boosted by West Indian Dwayne Smith’s 71 in the match against Karachi Kings but that was not enough to seal the win.
Zalmi will also want their left-arm spinner, Mohammad Asghar, to show up and match their 19-year-old leg-spinner Ibtisam Sheikh who has taken five wickets in the three matches so far and has burdened the attack on his not-so-broad shoulders.
The two teams have played some exciting matches in the two editions of the PSL, with both teams tied at 3-3 in seven matches with one no result. But in the knock out stages, Quetta had the better of Zalmi by one run in the first edition and again by the same narrow margin last year.
But Zalmi had the last laugh when they downed Quetta by 58 runs in the final last year. So expect another close encounter at Sharjah tonight.