By the end of Tuesday night, we will have a new PSL champion. But for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), what matters the most is the bigger picture. A tournament that has grown in stature ever since the first edition in 2016 finally took a giant leap when the organisers decided to state the entire edition in Pakistan for the first time in 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to a screeching halt just before the knockout phase. The PCB finally managed to find a window to complete the tournament and are just one game away from successfully completing their target which will hold them in good stead while approaching more teams to tour the country in the future.
The three games since the restart have been quality. Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars battled past table-toppers Multan Sultans, who were severely affected by the non-availability of some of their players, to reach their maiden PSL final. Both teams have a lot at stake going into this massive clash. For Lahore, a win in the final can help them erase the bitter memories of the four previous editions where they finished bottom. And for Karachi, it could turn out to be an extremely emotional final with the franchise repeatedly stating they want to win this for their late head coach Dean Jones.
All things aside, there is a cricket match to be won and both teams are evenly matched. Lahore have the momentum as they are coming off after winning two knock-out games back to back. They posses the most potent seam attack in the competition. Shaheen Shah is the leading wicket-taker in the league. As far as the as the batting is concerned, Muhammad Hafeez is in the form of his life. Openers Tamim Iqbal and Fakhar Zaman spend good time in the middle in the second eliminator and seemed to find their groove. Ben Dunk is yet to fire in the playoffs but we all know what he is capable off. He scored a magnificent 40 ball 99 against Karachi in the group game in March. Wiese has been instrumental in both wins for Lahore Qalandars in the knockout games.
In Babar Azam, Karachi have the services of one of the best T20 batsmen in the world. He is also the leading run scorer in this edition of the PSL. He will have support from the free flowing Alex Hales who has a strike rate in excess of 156. Cameron Delport might be considered for this game as their middle order is looking a bit shaky and might get exposed in the all important final. Imad and Rutherford will be the finishers and will take great confidence from their innings against Multan Sultans.
Muhammad Amir, who bowled a fantastic super-over to win the game for Karachi, will be leading the bowling attack. He will have support of Waqas Maqsood and Arshad Iqbal who were impressive in their last outing against Multan and bagged two wickets each. Imad Wasim and Iftikhar Ahmad will be doing the spin duties.
Stats and Trivia
Babar Azam has scored the most runs (1179) in T20 cricket in 2020. He is also PSL 2020’s highest run-getter.
Muhammad Amir just needs one wicket to take his PSL wicket tally to 50.
Haris Rauf is the leading wicket taker in T20 cricket in 2020
Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman and Ben Dunk are second, third and fourth in the PSL 2020 run charts.
Ben Dunk has hit the most sixes (23)
Karachi Kings Predicted XI: Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Alex Hales, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim (C), Chadwick Walton (WK), Sherfane Rutherford, Wayne Parnell, Mohammad Amir, Waqas Maqsood, Arshad Iqbal
Lahore Qalandars Predicted XI: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal, Sohail Akhtar (C), Mohammad Hafeez, Ben Dunk (WK), David Weise, Samit Patel, Muhammad Faizan, Dilbar Hussain, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi