Sultans eye home support to trump Zalmi

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MULTAN: Multan Sultans are eyeing home comforts as they take on former champions Peshawar Zalmi at the Multan Stadium as the Pakistan Super League resumes after a two-day break in the city of saints on Wednesday.

A win for either team will take them atop the fledgling PSL standings, tied on four points with Islamabad United and holders Quetta Gladiators.

“We are not only focused to winning all of our three matches in Multan but also providing good entertaining cricket to our home crowd,” Sultans skipper Shan Masood said in a news conference on Tuesday.

“We’re all very excited. It is good that we will be able to taste how it feels to play in front of a home crowd. Lahore Qalandars and Karachi Kings have already experienced that and now Islamabad United will do that by playing in Rawalpindi.

“I hope that a good local crowd turns up to see us. The fans have already shown great interest in buying tickets.”

Multan opened the fifth PSL season with a victory against the Qalandars but suffered an eight-wicket thrashing from United in their second game.

“It’s just two matches so far and with the passage of time and according to the situation, each and every player including former Pakistan star all-rounder Shahid Afridi will also be tested,” said Shan. “After our matches in Multan, we’ll be in a better position to assess where we are as a team.”

Shan added that the team’s low-profile performances were due to the boardroom upheavals, including the change of owners since the team came into the PSL three season ago. “But now we’re being handled by a better team management,” he said.

Zalmi come into the game on the back of a morale-boosting six-wicket triumph over the Gladiators after losing their opener to the Kings.

Kamran Akmal has been their standout performer so far, scoring a century against the Gladiators to help his side grab their first points of the season.

“He’s in terrific form but we know how to tackle him with our experts having worked out a strategy against all players,” said Shan, referring to Kamran.

With the pitch likely to be batting-friendly, Akmal and the rest of the batsmen in the Zalmi line-up including Liam Livingstone, Liam Dawson and Shoaib Malik would be licking their lips at the prospect of playing at the Multan Stadium. Sultans, meanwhile, will hope their main batsmen like Shan, James Vince and Rilee Rossouw can also dazzle.

Zalmi’s upcoming paceman Mohammad Amir Khan said his team was eyeing a victory.

“Besides targeting a win in this game, we also want to play good cricket,” said the 18-year-old who made his PSL debut in the win against the Gladiators. “It’s a great honour for me to be a part of the PSL. It’s a great platform for me to grow.”

Teams:

MULTAN SULTANS: Shan Masood (captain), James Vince, Moeen Ali, Rilee Rossouw, Zeeshan Ashraf, Khushdil Shah, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Irfan, Imran Tahir, Sohail Tanvir, Ilyas Khan, Bilawal Bhatti, Ravi Bopara, Usman Qadir, Rohail Nazir.

PESHAWAR ZALMI: Darren Sammy (captain), Kamran Akmal, Haider Ali, Shoaib Malik, Tom Banton, Wahab Riaz, Liam Livingstone, Hasan Ali, Amir Khan, Mohammad Mohsin, Rahat Ali, Liam Dawson., Umar Amin, Imam-ul-Haq.

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