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 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.
Peshawar Zalmi have drafted Bangladesh’s all-rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan as a reserved supplementary pick. He will be available for selection in Tuesday’s (today) match against Karachi Kings. He will be available until February 26.
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.
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 recorded 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. Zalmi have an upper hand over Kings. Out of 17 matches played 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 and Islamabad United for one season.
“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 was given by Karachi Kings and Islamabad United when I was their part,” Babar said.
“It’s a good thing that there is competition among teams. 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, serving as Punjab’s interim sports minister, is in form and will deliver in the PSL.
Meanwhile, Kings skipper Imad Wasim said that they were looking forward to a winning start at home.
He said that they 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 into the event,” Imad hoped.
He said that Mohammad Amir and Shoaib Malik are huge assets for the team. “Mohammad Amir is our main strike weapon. Unfortunately, he got injured last season. We will see 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 senior players helps you as a captain in tough times and he can give you the best advice,” Imad said.
Karachi Kings: Andrew Tye, James Fuller, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi, Matthew Wade, James Vince, Imad Wasim (captain), 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