Tuesday November 30, 2021

Crucial PSL semi-finals today

March 17, 2020

LAHORE: After a high-octane double round-robin league, which was embellished by scintillating on-field performances, four teams will be vying for the two berths for the final of the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 when the two semi-finals are played at Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan’s home of cricket, on Tuesday, 17 March.

This year’s edition has brought forward two new contenders for the coveted title as Multan Sultans and Lahore Qalandars have gone beyond the group stage for the first time in the history of the event.

In the first semi-final, Sultans will face Peshawar Zalmi, the 2017 edition’s winners and two-time runners-up, at 2.00pm while the biggest rivalry of the event will be ignited once again when Karachi Kings and Qalandars play in the second semi-final, which will commence at 7.00pm.

First semi-final – Multan Sultans v Peshawar Zalmi: Multan Sultans were the most successful side in the group-stage with six wins from 10 matches. They were perched at the top of the points table for the most part of the tournament and were the first ones to secure a semi-final spot.

Zalmi, on the other hand, oscillated from wins to defeats over the course of their 10-match journey to date. They enter the semi-finals ranked fourth with four wins and one of their matches getting washed-out.

Sultans came out on topon both occasions when the two teams met in the group matches. They won the first match by six wickets with as many as 31 balls remaining at Multan Cricket Stadium, their home, and secured a three-run win in a closely-fought match at Karachi’s National Stadium.

For Sultans, traveling to Multan played a huge role where they won all three matches and got the desired momentum. Their captain Shan Masood has been leading the batting unit from the front. The left-handed top-order batsman has piled up 253 runs, which include a half-century, at an average of 32. He is the highest run-getter for his side and sits sixth in the chart for the highest overall run-getters. That Khushdil Shah, the hard-hitting middle-order batsman, scored a 70 not out at a staggering strike rate of 241 in their last group match on Sunday bodes well for Sultans, who have their batting-order full of experienced T20 players like England’s Moeen Ali, Ravi Bopara and all-rounder Shahid Afridi.

Second semi-final – Karachi Kings v Lahore Qalandars: The biggest inter-city rivalry in the country will come alive once again as Gaddafi Stadium will stage the second semi-final between arch-rivals Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars. The two teams are locked at 1-1 in this edition after defeating each other on their home grounds. Qalandars secured a comprehensive eight-wicket win against Kings at Gaddafi Stadium and Kings avenged it with a commanding 10-wicket win at the National Stadium. That the semi-final line-up was decided on the very last group match was largely due to Lahore Qalandars, who have progressed beyond the group-stage for the first time after four attempts. Qalandars finished at the third spot, while Karachi Kings were ranked second at the completion of the group-stage.

It was their three consecutive wins in the middle-phase of their HBL PSL 2020 campaign which gave Qalandars’ the hope of their qualification to the next round and that it happened was due to the thunderous bat of Ben Dunk – who has smashed 23 sixes this tournament, the most for any batsman.