Zalmi face Qalandars today in their opener

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Former champions Peshawar Zalmi will kick-off their HBL PSL 2021 journey with their opener against last season’s runners-up Lahore Qalandars here at National Stadium on Sunday (today).

The match starts at 2pm. Zalmi, the 2017 winners and the 2018 and 2019 runners-up, went down to Qalandars last season in the eliminator.

Zalmi have an edge over Qalandars as so far in the PSL history these two teams have met each other 11 times with Zalmi winning eight and Qalandars emerging victorious in just three matches.

Last season of the three matches played between the two sides Qalandars won two while Zalmi remained victorious in one.

Zalmi looked quite an unsettled team, having made mistakes in every department last year including captaincy. Wahab Riaz looked like an ordinary leader in some matches. 

With South African David Miller not available until March 1 due to his domestic cricket commitment and skipper Wahab Riaz having sent into three-day isolation after he and head coach Darren Sammy violated Covid protocols on Friday, Zalmi will be facing issues in their opener.

They will depend on hard-hitting batsman Kamran Akmal, the so far highest scorer of the PSL history, Haider Ali, Imam-ul-Haq and Ravi Bopara.

Umaid Asif, Amad Butt, Sherfane Rutherford and Mohammad Irfan would bear the bowling burden and the first three have the capability to make big hitting.

Wahab Riaz the other day during a pre-event news conference had shown satisfaction over the composition of his side.

“Our combination last year did not click. It’s very important for any team to have a good combination for winning matches and an event,” Wahab said. “Last year a few individual top performances were seen but overall we struggled in both batting and bowling. This year we have a very good combination. We have informed all boys about their roles so that they could prepare well during the next four to five days ahead of the event,” Wahab said.

After  having finished at the rock bottom in the initial four editions Lahore Qalandars last season showed great achievement by qualifying for the final. However in the major game they were beaten by Karachi Kings by five wickets here at National Stadium on November 17, 2020.

Lahore boasts on hard-hitting Ben Dunk, David Wiese, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Joe Denly, the world’s top T20 leggie Rashid Khan of Afghanistan, utility player Samit Patel and skipper Sohail Akhtar himself who is in fine nick with the bat.

Sohail Akhtar claims that they have the world’s best bowling attack.

“We have the world’s best bowling attack. If you look, last year’s three top wicket-takers in T20 cricket are with us,” Sohail said.

“Last year went very well for us. The way our batting clicked and especially the way our bowling performed, so it instilled a lot of confidence in the team. And this time we will try to also overcome some minor issues and we have tried to fill that void this time,” Sohail said.

“We have prepared well. Bowlers and batsmen are in form and we are sharing with the players our plans. We had good planning last year and we will go with the same frame of mind this time also,” Sohail said. Sohail said that they would play positive cricket.

Lahore Qalandars: Ahmed Danyal, Ben Dunk, David Wiese, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Maaz Khan, Mohammad Faizan, Mohammad Hafeez, Joe Denly, Rashid Khan, Samit Patel, Shaheen  Afridi,  Sohail Akhtar, Tom Abell, Salman Ali Agha, Zaid Alam, Zeeshan Ashraf,

Peshawar Zalmi: Abrar Ahmed, Amad Butt, David Miller, Haider Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Tom-Kohler Cadmore,  Mohammad Amir Khan, Mohammad Irfan Snr, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Imran Randhawa, Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman, Ravi Bopara, Saqib Mahmood, Sherfane Rutherford, Shoaib Malik, Umaid Asif, Wahab Riaz (captain)

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