KARACHI: It’s that match we all wait for like no other. The ‘El Clásico’ of Pakistan Super League. The clash that is guaranteed to test nerves. It’s Quetta Gladiators vs Peshawar Zalmi today, and one of them is going straight into the final of the tournament on Sunday, March 17.
But it won’t be all over for the losing side – there will be another chance to make it to the final when the loser of today’s Qualifier plays against the winner of tomorrow’s Eliminator 1 on Friday.
But Quetta vs Peshawar matches are always more than just winning or losing. It’s a battle of strengths, weaknesses and egos. The two nemesis have faced off multiples times in the playoffs, and each match has been nothing less than a thriller. Here’s a quick look:
PSL 2016 Qualifier
Quetta Gladiators beat Peshawar Zalmi by one run to reach the final, where Islamabad United beat Sarfraz Ahmed XI to lift the inaugural trophy.
PSL 2017 Qualifier and Final
Quetta Gladiators beat Peshawar Zalmi by one run (again!) to secure a spot in the final. Peshawar Zalmi beat Karachi Kings in the second eliminator to reach the final, where they defeated their archrivals Quetta Gladiators by 24 runs to deny them yet another chance at the trophy. This was Quetta Gladiators’ second consecutive defeat in a PSL final.
PSL 2018 Eliminator
Last year again, the arch-rivals faced off in the do-or-die Eliminator 1 in Lahore, where Peshawar Zalmi again beat Quetta Gladiators by, you guessed it, one run! With the defeat, Quetta were eliminated from the tournament and Peshawar were beaten by Islamabad in the final.
Quetta and Peshawar will be raring to go in action against each other again today, and rest assured, it is all set to be another thriller.
Batsmen to look out for
Quetta Gladiators’ biggest star attraction is Shane Watson, who is also this tournament’s highest scorer so far with 352 runs at an insane strike rate of 140.80.
Ahmed Shehzad looks in formidable form too, especially after his 99 against Karachi Kings on Sunday. Umar Akmal cannot be underestimated either – he is his team’s second-highest scorer with 255 runs.
Peshawar Zalmi have the experience and calm of Misbah-ul-Haq, who has single-handedly won them a match already. Opener Imam-ul-Haq has been consistent with the runs and is Zalmi’s top scorer with 257 runs at a strike rate of 124.15.
Bowlers to watch
Peshawar Zalmi’s bowling lineup is led by paceman Hasan Ali, who has again reclaimed the Fazal Mehmood Cap with 21 wickets. He is helped by Wahab Riaz, who has 13 wickets in the tournament.
For Quetta, pacer Sohail Tanvir is in good form with 15 wickets so far, but what stands out is the team’s spin duo of Mohammad Nawaz and Fawad Ahmed, who have 21 wickets between them.
Not to forget rookie pacer Mohammad Hasnain, who became the fastest bowler of this tournament when he clocked in at 150.52kph. The 18-year old caught everyone’s attention with his fiery spell of 1-29 on his PSL debut, and clocks consistently at over 140kph.
Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Shane Watson, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Nawaz, Rilee Rossouw, Umar Akmal, Fawad Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Asghar, Danish Aziz, Ahsan Ali, Ghulam Madassir, Mohammad Hasnain, Harry Gurney, Ahmed Shahzad, Azam Khan, Jalat Khan, Mohammad Irfan Jr
Darren Sammy (c), Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Kieron Pollard, Kamran Akmal, Misbah ul Haq, Liam Dawson, Dawid Malan, Umar Amin, Umaid Asif, Khalid Usman, Wayne Madsen, Sohaib Maqsood, Jamal Anwar, Sameen Gul, Nabi Gul, Andre Fletcher, Chris Jordan, Ibtesam Sheikh, Samiullah, Tymal Mills