PSL 2019: Three players to watch as Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi battle in final

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Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi will each be playing in their third Pakistan Super League (PSL) final when they face off in Karachi on Sunday for the 2019 title.

While Peshawar succeeded in lifting the trophy in 2017, beating Quetta in the final, their opponents are yet to taste success.

The two sides have enjoyed a fine rivalry this season as well. Peshawar pipped Quetta to top spot during the league stage but have lost to them three times.

Here, we look at the players who could help decide the winner.

SHANE WATSON

Leading the run-scoring charts with a tally of 423 so far, Shane Watson is naturally the first name that comes to mind. The explosive opener has the ability to take the game away from the opposition and will be desperate to shine in his first PSL final.

Having turned out for the Pakistan leg of the tournament for the first time this year, the Australian also has the opportunity to break Luke Ronchi’s record for the most runs in a single season (435 in 2018), needing just 13 runs to do so.

Peshawar Zalmi will be especially wary of Watson having been on the receiving end of his wrath twice this year. He scored an unbeaten 91 off 55 balls during Quetta Gladiators’ victory over them in Abu Dhabi before hitting 71 off 43 in the Karachi Qualifier.

KAMRAN AKMAL

With the title on the line, you need experienced heads to lead the way and you can’t do much better than Kamran Akmal in that regard. The 37-year-old is the PSL’s top run-scorer of all time with 1265 under his belt.

He’s been there and done it with Peshawar already – and against Quetta as well. Akmal was the Player of the Series and top-scored with 40 runs when Peshawar beat Quetta in the 2017 final to lift the title.

In Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard, Zalmi’s batting runs deep but they can only truly capitalise when someone like Akmal lays the foundation for the innings at the top. The Pakistani opener has come into form at the business end of the season with all three of his half centuries this campaign coming in the last five matches. He’s also registered scores of 22, 49 and 72 against Quetta this season.

HASAN ALI

Despite boasting a formidable batting order, bowling remains Peshawar’s calling card. That’s no surprise given their attack includes two of the top three wicket-takers this season in Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz.

The latter is the PSL’s top wicket-taker of all time with 64 scalps across four seasons but it’s his team-mate – almost 10 years his junior – who’s been a sensation this season. Ali leads the charts with 25 wickets this term, which is already the most in a single season.

The 24-year-old seamer has used his variations to good effect this campaign and shone in the second Eliminator against holders Islamabad United with figures of 3-29, dismissing the dangerous opening pair of Luke Ronchi and Cameron Delport before claiming Hussain Talat’s wicket as well.

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