The first eliminator of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will see the third-place Lahore Qalandars and fourth-placed Peshawar Zalmi take on each other. Lahore is in the playoffs for the first time and looking to make it count. Zalmi has made it to the playoffs in every edition and knows how to handle the pressure. Let’s look at the key players from both sides that will be in the action.
The veteran wicket-keeper batsman was the top scorer for Peshawar Zalmi in the league stage. In 9 innings, he made 251 runs at a strike rate of 161.93. His highest score of 101 came against Quetta Gladiators where he decimated the bowlers. In 2018, Akmal scored a brilliant 77 off just 25 balls in the Eliminator to virtually bat Karachi out of the game. The boys in yellow will certainly be looking for a repeat of that performance.
Faf du Plessis
The former South African captain has been roped in by Peshawar Zalmi in place of Kieron Pollard for the playoffs. Du Plessis brings a lot of stability and experience to the team. He is coming off from a good IPL season where he scored 449 runs at an average of 40 for Chennai Super Kings. It will be interesting to see whether he opens the innings or plays in the middle order.
The left-arm pace bowler finished the league stage as the third highest wicket-taker. He bagged 11 wickets in 9 games. With Hassan Ali out of the playoffs due to injury, Zalmi’s attack is looking a bit thin and Wahab will have a huge role to play. His experience will come in handy both with the new and old ball.
The Australian was instrumental in Qalandar’s late surge in making the playoffs. Dunk was their highest run scorer and was third on the list of run-getters in the tournament. He scored 266 runs in 8 innings with two ninety plus scores. During the league stage, he hit most sixes (23). With Chris Lynn not available for the playoffs, a huge responsibility rests on Dunk’s shoulder to give quick starts in the top order.
The professor has been in prolific form in the T20’s lately. The 40-year-old scored 217 runs in PSL 5 with an average of 36.16 with a top score of 98* against Islamabad United. Hafeez looked in great touch in the T20I’s against England and the National T20 cup. Along with that his bowling skills will also be handy for Lahore Qalandars.
Shaheen Shah Afridi
The 21-year-old has been in the form of his life in 2020. He finished the wicket-taking charts in second place with 13 scalps. Shaheen was also head and shoulders above the other bowlers in the recently concluded domestic T20 cup with 23 wickets. He will be asking some serious questions with the new balls. Also, he is lethal at the death with his yorkers and is hard to score runs off.