Sultans-United clash for PSL-9 title tonight

By our correspondent
KARACHI: Karachi’s National Bank Stadium is set to host the HBL PSL 9 final on 18 March 2024, wherein table-toppers Multan Sultans will meet Islamabad United to battle it out for the grand Orion trophy. The first ball is expected to be bowled at 9pm, while the toss will take place at 8:30pm.
Sultans, who qualified for the final after beating Peshawar Zalmi in the Qualifier, will be playing their fourth consecutive final. They were crowned champions in the 2021 edition and finished as runners-up in the subsequent two editions wherein Lahore Qalandars clinched two back-to-back titles.
After finishing third on the table, United beat Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi in the two eliminators to earn the coveted berth in the final. This will be two-time champions United’s first final since 2018 – when they last won the HBL PSL title.
In the lead-up to the playoffs, Multan Sultans secured 14 points after winning seven out of their ten games. United finished with five wins, whereas their home game against Lahore Qalandars was washed out. As a result, United had 11 points, equaling with the fourth-placed Quetta Gladiators.
Multan’s Mohammad Rizwan and Usman Khan are the second and third highest run-getters of the tournament thus far, only behind Peshawar Zalmi’s Babar Azam who ended HBL PSL 9 with 569 runs in 11 innings, including five half-centuries and one century.
Rizwan has accumulated 382 runs in as many innings, with four half-centuries. Usman, having appeared in only six games, has made 373 runs on the back of two centuries and a half-century.
Colin Munro, with 309 runs from nine games with three fifties, is the highest run-getter for Islamabad United. Islamabad’s skipper Shadab Khan has also starred with the bat and ball alike this season; in 11 games, he has produced 301 runs, including three half-centuries, and taken 11 wickets.
Leader of the Sultans’ spin attack, Usama Mir, is the current leading wicket-taker of the tournament, holding the Inverex Fazal Mahmood Cap. He has 23 scalps in 11 games, including one six-wicket haul. His current tally of 23 is the best by any spinner in one edition of HBL PSL and is only two wickets behind Hasan Ali’s record of 25 wickets, the most by any bowler in one edition, which has not been bested since 2019.
Sultans’ right-arm pacer Mohammad Ali, playing his maiden HBL PSL tournament, has 18 wickets in 11 games, the most by any pacer in the tournament thus far.
Naseem Shah, who made his move to Islamabad United ahead of HBL PSL 9, has the most wickets for his team thus far. Assuming his role as the leader of Islamabad’s bowling attack, the right-arm seamer has grabbed 15 wickets in 10 games.
Shadab Khan: “I’m proud of my team for standing tall in crucial situations and getting through to the final of HBL PSL after a long hiatus of five years. This is what we intended while assembling the squad and all the players have responded very well throughout the group stage as well as the playoffs. Islamabad winning the trophy for the third time will be a great achievement and I’m looking forward to whatever challenge Multan Sultans will pose in the final. Hopefully, our batters and bowlers will step up in a spirited manner as they have done throughout the season and will make us champions.”
Mohammad Rizwan: “I am very proud of the way my team has played in this tournament. Our boys have displayed the true warrior spirit throughout the tournament. Whenever we found ourselves behind the opposition, our players stepped up through their bold and fearless approach.
“We have a solid team that has all the bases covered. Our locals, foreigners and emerging players have shone and produced some extraordinary performances. What further helps us is the fact that our team has gelled really well in the last four weeks.
“For tomorrow, we need to stick to our process. I am sure if our execution is perfect, the people of Multan and south Punjab will get a favourable result. InshaAllah!”

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