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February 20, 2020

Sarfraz, Shadab confident ahead of PSL opener

Sports

February 20, 2020

KARACHI: Holders Quetta Gladiators’ skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and Islamabad United’s captain Shadab Khan on Wednesday were quite confident about their respective outfits’ performances in the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 which will kick-off here at National Stadium on Thursday (today).

Gladiators take on United in what could be a high-voltage game. “We have a good side and will try our level best to perfrom the way we did in the last four seasons,” Sarfraz said in a pre-match news conference here at National Stadium.

“We will use the right combination. Shane Watson and Jason Roy will open the innings and Ahmed Shehzad will bat at number three. In the deep we have also some pinch-hitters like Sohail Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Umar Akmal,” said Sarfraz, also a former Pakistan captain.

However, Sarfraz was quick to add that there would certainly be pressure on them being defending champions. He said he wants to go up the order to play a key role in the team’s journey. “I would like to bat in the top order and contribute to the cause of my team,” the Test stumper said.

Quetta Gladiators won the PSL-4 here at National Stadium, beating former champions Peshawar Zalmi by eight wickets in the final.

When asked whether he would try to return to the Pakistan team after clicking in the T20 event, Sarfraz said: “My focus right now is on the PSL. I want the team to carry on from where we left last year. And if I am able to perfrom then the things could improve later on,” he said, while hinting towards his return to the elite squad.

Sarfraz said that Gladiators and Islamabad United have good relations off the field but they are different when they go on to the field. “It will be a tight clash,” he said.

Sarfraz said that the presence of their mentor Viv Richards gave them motivation. “Shane Watson’s presence in the team helps the youngsters to learn,” he added.

Meanwhile, Shadab said that their combination was right and they would try to win the event for the third time. “We have a good combination and will try to become champions once again,” the international leggie said.

However, he was quick to add that they would miss their key pacer Mohammad Sami this season and his absence would be felt as he was a great bowler.

To a query, Shadab said captaincy in the presence of seniors, including some great foreign players, would not put him under pressure. “Captaincy will be easy. They are professional cricketers and I would take advice from them and we will play together,” Shadab said.

He said that South African pacer Dale Steyn would join them after three matches. “He will miss the first three matches,” the skipper said. He did not rate any side as favourite. “All are good teams. Tomorrow we will try to take a good start against Gladiators,” Shadab said.

About young all-rounder Ammad Butt, Shadab said he would be given chance to bat up the order as he batted well in the practice game. Former Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq is the head coach of Islamabad United while former Test stumper Moin Khan is coaching Gladiators. The opener will begin at 9pm.