By our correspondent
KARACHI: The 2017 edition champions Peshawar Zalmi, being led by Babar Azam, will be looking to take a bright start to the HBL PSL 8 when they face the 2020 edition’s champions Karachi Kings in their opener here at the lush green National Stadium on Tuesday (today).
Both teams are well balanced and have also received some of their foreign recruits ahead of the opener.
Zalmi have already been joined by Australia’s Peter Hatzglou, Bhanuka Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and English batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore.
Kings have received Australia’s hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman Matthew Wade, South Africa’s left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, Australia’s Adrew Tye and Australia’s all-rounder Ben Cutting who was the first foreign player who reached Karachi a few days ago.
It would be a very vital game for Karachi Kings to take a good start to the PSL following their pathetic show last season during which they could record just one win out of ten matches. Zalmi have so far qualified for all playoffs during the last seven years while Kings missed the playoffs last year for the first time during their PSL journey.
Zalmi have an upper hand over Kings. Out of 17 matches which have been played so far between the two outfits Zalmi have won 12 while Kings have recorded victories in five matches.
Zalmi will be led by the world’s leading batsman Babar Azam who before this served Kings for six years.
“We are very much excited as PSL is getting underway,” Zalmi’s skipper Babar Azam told a pre-match news conference here at National Stadium.
“We get support from Karachi also and we always enjoy playing here. Zalmi have given me love which had been given by Karachi Kings and Islamabad United when I was their part,” Babar said.
“All teams are strong and it depends on where you finish. The team which will play good cricket on a given day can dominate,” Babar said.
“Its good thing that there is enough competition among teams and it’s a good thing as it creates excitement before the event. This is my first season for Zalmi and I will try to play good cricket and help Zalmi record victories,” Babar said.
He said that Wahab Riaz, now Punjab interim sports minister, is in form and he will deliver in the PSL.
Meanwhile Kings skipper Imad Wasim said that they would look forward for a winning start at home.
“Its good thing that we are playing in Karachi and crowd will be our 12th man and definitely here we get support. If we get a winning start here so it can help us onwards,” Imad told the news conference.
He said that have a good team.
“Sometimes it happens that your franchise does not click as we experienced last year. The best thing is to learn from mistakes and move on. We have a very good combination. If we play up to our potential we can go deep in the event,” Imad hoped.
He said that Mohammad Amir and Shoaib Malik are huge seeds of the team.
“Mohammad Amir is our main strike weapon and unfortunately he got injured last season and we will look how to manage his workload because he has played a lot of cricket,” Imad said.
“Shoaib Malik’s inclusion is a big one for us. The inclusion of a senior players helps you as a captain in tough times and he can give you the best advice,” Imad said.
Squads: Karachi Kings: Andrew James Tye, James Fuller, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi, Matthew Wade, James Vince, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Shoaib Malik, Haider Ali, Aamer Yamin, Mir Hamza, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Akhlaq, Mohammad Umer, Tayyab Tahir, Qasim Akram, Irfan Khan Niazi, Ben Cutting, Musa Khan, Adam Rossington, Faisal Akram.
Peshawar Zalmi: Babar Azam (captain), Rovman Powell, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Sherfane Rutherford, Wahab Riaz, Arshad Iqbal, Danish Aziz, Mohammad Haris, Aamer Jamal, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Saim Ayub, Salman Irshad, Usman Qadir, Haseebullah Khan, Sufyan Muqeem, Jimmy Neesham, Khurram Shahzad, Haris Sohail, Richard Gleeson