KARACHI: Just two victories in 10 matches brand Karachi King’s absolute underdogs against the powerful Peshawar Zalmi in their HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 encounter set to be held at the National Stadium on Friday.
The first of eight all-day fixtures may sound mismatch on paper but make no mistake, Karachi Kings is far from being a mediocre unit. A side that boasts of the world top-ranked T20 batsman Babar Azam and Alex Hales and a bowling attack featuring the likes of Mohammad Amir and Umar Khan simply can’t be classified in the ‘also-rans’ category.
But if the comparisons are considered there is an aura of invincibility about this Peshawar Zalmi squad, which is overflowing with class and tons of T20 experience. The latest to join three-time finalists on the trot are Shoaib Malik, Liam Livingstone, Carlos Brathwaite, Tom Banton and a trio of under-19 rookies Haider Ali, Mohammad Amir Khan, and Aamir Ali.
Karachi Kings have the ingredients to improve their track record against a side that is simply brimming with confidence with no worries over selection matters. And with Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz, the top performers in the PSL history in their respective departments, Peshawar Zalmi clearly start as the favorites.
The redemption of Sharjeel Khan will be closely monitored by the selectors as the left-handed opening batsman prepares to play his first competitive match since playing for Islamabad United in the opening clash of the 2017 PSL edition in Dubai against Peshawar Zalmi after which he hauled up and sent home promptly to face a spot-fixing injury.
Both captains — Karachi Kings’ Imad Wasim and his Peshawar Zalmi counterpart Darren Sammy — focused on getting off to a winning start during respective pressers on Thursday.
“Of course anything can happen over the four weeks but it is always nice, to begin with, a win under the belt,” Imad remarked. “This year we have built a good squad and the induction of Alex Hales and the return of Sharjeel Khan have strengthened our batting line-up. And then, of course, Babar is there to shoulder the responsibility to ensure we pile up big totals.
“Another advantage we’ll have this time is playing five matches here in Karachi because they support a team gets from the fans always act as an inspiration.”
Sammy, on another hand, praised the camaraderie in the Peshawar ranks. “It is great fun to have guys backing each other, which is exactly our work ethics team-wise. Each one of us takes training sessions seriously to ensure everybody is awake to the task.”
KARACHI KINGS: Imad Wasim (captain), Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Alex Hales, Cameron Delport, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Aamir Yamin, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Amir, Usama Mir, Umaid Asif, Ali Khan, Chadwick Walton, Umar Khan, Arshad Iqbal, Mitchell McClenaghan, Awais Zia.
PESHAWAR ZALMI: Darren Sammy (captain, Kamran Akmal, Imam-ul-Haq, Liam Livingstone, Shoaib Malik, Tom Banton, Umar Amin, Liam Dawson, Carlos Brathwaite, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir Khan, Aamir Ali, Haider Ali, Adil Amin.