PSL Final 2018 – It’s an Eid of cricket in Karachi, a city of over 20 million cricket-mad people that hasn’t played host to a game of this magnitude for over nine years. Peshawar Zalmi are set to take on Islamabad United in a high-voltage PSL final at National Stadium Karachi – a venue set to host its first high-profile game since the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test in February 2009. The game is billed as a homecoming, what with Pakistan’s biggest city having been deprived of major cricket for almost a decade.
Islamabad United Vs Peshawar Zalmi PSL Final
Pakistan’s biggest city will witness a high-profile cricket match for the first time in nine years on Sunday when the Pakistan Super League final is staged amid heavy security at a newly renovated National Stadium in Karachi.
More than 8,000 security personnel have been deployed for the Twenty20 final between Islamabad United and last year’s champions Peshawar Zalmi.
Karachi, now with a population of 15 million, last saw a major game with international players in February 2009, Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan in a test match. On the same tour, terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team bus at Lahore. On March 3, 2009, the bus carrying the visiting cricketers, part of a large convoy, was fired upon by 12 gunmen near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. They were on their way to play the third day of the second test against Pakistan, and six Pakistan policemen and two civilians were killed, and six members of the Sri Lanka team were injured.
That resulted in an end to international cricket in the country, and the Pakistan Cricket Board was left with no choice but to choose United Arab Emirates as its “home” turf to host international teams. However, the PCB continued in its efforts to convince foreign nations to begin touring Pakistan.
Islamabad United Vs Peshawar Zalmi
PSL Final Team news
Despite safety concerns among foreign players overshadowing the games themselves, both teams have managed to retain the services of most of their best overseas players for the marquee game. This was in stark contrast to last year, when all of Quetta Gladiators’ foreign players pulled out while Peshawar Zalmi fielded a full-strength side.
Misbah ul Haq missed the Qualifier with a hairline fracture in his wrist. The 43-year-old has been struggling for fitness, and will miss the final. Islamabad are likely to stick to their combination from the Dubai game where they beat Karachi Kings by eight wickets with 45 balls to spare. One enforced change will be the absence of Alex Hales, who pulled out due to security concerns.
Islamabad United (likely): 1 Luke Ronchi (wk), 2 Sahibzada Farhan, 3 JP Duminy (capt), 4 Hussain Talat, 5 Samit Patel, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Chadwick Walton/Samuel Badree, 8 Shadab Khan, 9 Faheem Ashraf, 10 Mohammad Sami, 11 Amad Butt
Kamran Akmal has been playing despite a stiff neck and a hamstring niggle but with three days of rest before the game should have had enough time to regain his fitness. Peshawar are likely to retain their winning combination.
Peshawar Zalmi (likely): 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Andre Fletcher, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Saad Nasim, 5 Liam Dawson, 6 Darren Sammy (capt), 7 Chris Jordan, 8 Hasan Ali, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Umaid Asif, 11 Sameen Gul
Stats and trivia
- Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi have the two best PSL win-loss ratios across three years. Islamabad have won 18 matches and lost 12, while Peshawar have won 19 and lost 13.
- Islamabad’s Faheem Ashraf is the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, with 17 wickets at a strike rate of 12.7 and an economy rate of 7.72. Peshawar’s Wahab Riaz is breathing down his neck with 16 wickets at an economy rate of 6.86 and a strike rate of 17.2.
- But the city is giving a festive look to welcome foreign players like Peshawar Zalmi’s Darren Sammy of West Indies and Chris Jordan of England, and South African J.P. Duminy and New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi of Islamabad United. Billboards and player cut-outs have been displayed on the sides of main streets to celebrate an international-standard game for the first time in nearly a decade.
Sammy has become a household name in Pakistan especially the way he has carried Zalmi to the final after playing four successive matches with a leg injury. “Yes Karachi we’re coming,” Sammy said in a video message. “I want you all to come and support Peshawar Zalmi. I want everybody to wear the yellow shirt, it’s a yellow storm, we’re coming.” —AP
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