Sultans, Zalmi clash in high-voltage PSL6 final tonight
Marred by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL6) will have a new champion crowned at the Shaikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night when Multan Sultans clash with Peshawar Zalmi.
After 33 matches, the PSL6 bandwagon was shifted to the UAE after a breach of security protocols led to a few coronavirus cases in the bio-secure bubble in Karachi, which brought the high-charged tournament to an abrupt halt before it was resumed in Abu Dhabi again.
The first-time finalists Multan Sultans will look to get away with a chunk of history with a victory over the much-experienced Zalmi, who have been a feature of the title showdown thrice from 2017 to 2019, including lifting the trophy in 2017.
The final match will start at 9 pm Pakistan standard time.
Both Sultans and Zalmi outclassed Islamabad United in the play-offs to confirm their final clash. Islamabad United, who had topped the points table with eight wins, lost their way at the business end of the tournament, suffering a 31-run loss to Sultans in Monday’s qualifier, followed by an eight-wicket defeat to Zalmi on Tuesday evening in the Eliminator 2.
Mohammad Rizwan-led Sultans were languishing at the fifth spot with just a win from five games when the tournament was suspended in Karachi on 4 March. However, the Abu Dhabi leg has brought them an incredible change in their fortunes with them clinching five victories in six games, including the qualifier victory over Islamabad United.
Meanwhile, 2017 champions Peshawar Zalmi had a tough run leading up to the playoffs.
Wahab Riaz-led side lost three out of their five Abu Dhabi-leg matches, yet succeeded in maintaining a decent net run-rate that helped them secure third spot ahead of Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars who like Zalmi, finished the league-stage with 10 points.
Zalmi knocked out the defending champions Kings by five wickets in Eliminator 1 in a gripping encounter that finished on the penultimate ball, before their overwhelming victory over United, which earned them their fourth PSL final appearance.
About their win against Islamabad United, Mohammad Rizwan said: “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 said: “Since the beginning of the 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.”