It seems like a long time ago when the sixth season of the Pakistan Super League started in Karachi. Four months and four days later and we are set for the final showdown. Not so long ago there was an uproar about the cancellation of the tournament and to come out from that situation to the penultimate game itself is a huge triumph.

Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi are the worthy finalists as both beat Islamabad United, the best team in the tournament in the playoffs to qualify for the final. Sultans had a torrid time during the Karachi leg of the tournament with them winning just one of five games. Initially, their bowling was letting them down but since coming to Abu Dhabi they have looked like a well-oiled machine.

Sohail Tanvir has found his lost mojo while Imran Khan has been a real force for them. The left-arm pacer has certainly silenced his critics and has bowled with passion and purpose. Dahani has been a live wire on the field and with the ball in hand, while the old fox Imran Tahir has been spinning his web around the batsmen in the middle overs.

Peshawar Zalmi are in their fourth PSL final having won the tournament in 2017. They are running high on confidence after winning two back to back knockout games and will be looking for their second trophy. Kamran Akmal hasn’t had the best of seasons but we all know what he can do in big games. Hazrat Ullah Zazai has been in great form in both eliminators. Jonathan Wells also scored a half century on his PSL debut against Islamabad United just two nights ago. Th experienced Shoaib Malik followed by Sherfane Rutherford and Romven Powell constitues a powerfull late middle order.

Key Players to watch

Multan Sultans

Mohammad Rizwan

In a format where consistency is hard to find, Muhammad Rizwan has been incredibly consistent. He has already amassed 1000 runs in T20 cricket this year and is leading the scoring charts. In PSL, he is second on the highest run-getters with 470 runs at an astounding average of 47. Last year in October he led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to a domestic T20 title and will be looking to add another silverware in his collection.

Shahnawaz Dahani

Dahani, unarguably has been the find of the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League. The right arm pacer has lit up the field both with his bowling and attitude and currently, is the leading wicket-taker of the tournament with 20 scalps. Peshawar batsmen will have a huge challenge on their hands against a bowler who is relishing the big stage.

Dahani’s celeberating after picking up his fourth wicket

Sohaib Maqsood

Sohaib Maqsood has been pivotal for the Sultans in the top order and has certainly raised his stocks big time and is knocking on the doors of Pakistan team. The right-handed batsmen has been in belligerent form and has accumulated 363 runs with a strike rate of 152.52 with four half-centuries. It has been a nightmare for bowling attacks as he has been ruthless both against the pacers and spinners.

Peshawar Zalmi

Hazrtullah Zazai

The left-hander from Afghanistan was crucial in Zalmi coming out on top in both knockout games. He pulverized Karachi with a 38 ball 77 to break the back of the chase and followed it up with a methodical 66 against Islamabad United to help his team qualify for the final. The 23-year-old will looking to make it three in a row to take Peshawar to the PSL glory.

Shoaib Malik

The veteran batsman has been a pillar for Peshawar Zalmi and has been their highest run-scorer in the tournament with 306 runs. With two scores of 50 plus and a healthy strike rate in excess of 145, the yellow army will be looking at the experienced pro to deliver it for them on the big stage once again.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JUNE 16: Shoaib Malik of Pakistan during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between Pakistan and India at Old Trafford on June 16, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Wahab Riaz

Over the past six years, if anyone has embodied Peshawar Zalmi’s fighting spirit, it is Wahab Riaz. Time after time, he has put up performances with both bat and ball to lead his side to victory. After given captaincy during mid-way last season, he has led Peshawar Zalmi to the playoffs and final this year. He sits second on the wicket-taking charts this season with 18 wickets and has a batting strike rate of 188.

Head to Head

Played-8; Multan Sultans-5; Peshawar Zalmi-3

Form Guide (Last 5)

Peshawar Zalmi: W W L W L

Multan Sultans: W L W W W

Quotes

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: “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.”

The author is a member of staff and heads the sports and business desks at The Correspondent. He mainly lives in the shadows as a ghost writer so you may have read his work and not even known it. He can be reached at asadqasim@thecorrespondent.pk

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