PSL 2019 Final: Quetta Gladiators hold edge over Peshawar in the quest for maiden title

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The two captains with the trophy. Image - @thePSLt20/Twitter.

The cream has indeed risen to the top as Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi prepare to battle for the 2019 Pakistan Super League (PSL) title at Karachi on Sunday.

The two teams have clearly been a cut above the rest in the competition this season and have arrived at the final on the back of equally impressive campaigns.

Quetta are searching for their maiden PSL title after finishing runners-up on two previous occasions while 2017 champions Peshawar are making their third straight appearance in the final.

It is the Gladiators who hold the slight edge over Zalmi heading into the final at the National Stadium with Sarfraz Ahmed and his men emerging victorious on all three occasions the two teams have clashed this season including the Qualifier.

That fact is not perturbing Peshawar skipper Darren Sammy who is relishing the prospect of going into the final as underdogs.

“I would like to be an underdog but to be fair Quetta has played some good cricket,” the Peshawar skipper said on the eve of the clash.

“Quetta has had the better of us throughout the season and I always tell my boys that everything in life happens for a reason. If it is one time we chose to beat them why not in the final when it really matters.

“Hopefully, it’s a cracker of a game and we find ways and means to execute our plans against them and we will need that.”

WHERE PESHAWAR CAN WIN THE FINAL

While they have been generally strong in all departments, it has been their formidable bowling unit which has been Peshawar’s calling card throughout the campaign.

Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali has been the driving force behind Peshawar’s impressive run with the 24-year-old leading the wicket-taking charts by some distance. Hasan has picked up 25 wickets in just 12 matches this season and he has been ably complemented by Wahab Riaz who has 16 scalps of his own.

While both pacers have been prolific with regards to wickets, they have been equally impressive with their economy-rates as well with the pair going at less than seven runs an over.

If Hasan and Wahab can get on top of Quetta’s batting order, Peshawar will fancy their chances of a second PSL title.

WHERE QUETTA CAN WIN THE FINAL

While Peshawar have an impressive pace arsenal at their disposal, Quetta have the batting firepower to take on any bowling attack. Opener Shane Watson has been the star man for the Gladiators this season with the veteran Australian leading the run-scoring charts.

Watson has so far racked up 423 runs in 11 innings at an average of 47 and his ability to give the side an excellent start with the bat has shone through the campaign. The Australian has a habit of turning up on the big stage as evidenced by his century in the 2018 IPL final for Chennai Super Kings and he will be relishing the prospect of leading Quetta to a maiden PSL title.

Watson’s fellow Quetta opener Ahmed Shehzad is also having a terrific campaign after starting poorly with the right-hander notching up three half-centuries in his last four outings.

If the Quetta openers can withstand the might of Hasan Ali and Wahab, Peshawar will find it difficult to impose their dominance in the final.

TEAM NEWS

Quetta leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed had to be rushed to the hospital midway through the PSL Qualifier against Peshawar after suffering a nasty facial injury. Although the Australian will require surgery for the injury, he has made himself available to play the final.

Peshawar veteran Misbah-ul-Haq has been used very sparingly in the tournament with the former Pakistan skipper making only three appearances so far. He has registered unbeaten half-centuries in two of those clashes and is certain to take the field in the final given his experience of leading Islamabad United to two PSL titles previously.

LIKELY XIs

Quetta Gladiators: Shane Watson, Ahmed Shehzad, Ahsan Ali, Rilee Rossouw, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk and c), Dwayne Bravo, Mohammad Nawaz, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Hasnain, Fawad Ahmed.

Peshawar Zalmi: Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Misbah-ul-Haq, Sohaib Maqsood, Liam Dawson, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy (c), Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Sameen Gul, Tymal Mills.

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