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February 21, 2021

Wahab-less Zalmi face Qalandars today

Sports

February 21, 2021

KARACHI: Former champions Peshawar Zalmi will kick-off their HBL PSL 2021 journey with their opener against last season’s runners-up Lahore Qalandars here at National Stadium on Sunday (today).

The match starts at 2pm. Zalmi, the 2017 winners and 2018 and 2019 runners-up, went down to Qalandars last season in the eliminator.

Zalmi have an edge over Qalandars as so far in the PSL history these two teams have met each other 11 times with Zalmi winning eight times and Qalandars emerging victorious in just three matches.

Of the three matches played between the two sides last season, Qalandars won two, while Zalmi remained victorious in one.

Zalmi looked quite an unsettled team last year, making mistakes in every department, including captaincy. Wahab Riaz looked like an ordinary leader in some matches.

With South African David Miller not available until March 1 due to his domestic cricket commitment and skipper Wahab Riaz having been sent into three-day isolation after he and head coach Darren Sammy violated Covid protocols on Friday, Zalmi will be facing issues in their opener.

They will depend on hard-hitting batsman Kamran Akmal, the highest scorer of the PSL history, Haider Ali, Imam-ul-Haq and Ravi Bopara.

Umaid Asif, Amad Butt, Sherfane Rutherford and Mohammad Irfan will bear the bowling burden and the first three have the capability to hit big.

Wahab Riaz the other day during a pre-event news conference had shown satisfaction over the composition of his side.

“Our combination last year did not click. It’s very important for any team to have a good combination for winning matches and an event,” Wahab said. “Last year a few individual top performances were seen but overall we struggled in both batting and bowling. This year we have a very good combination. We have informed all boys about their roles,” he said.

Qalandars, who had finished at the rock bottom in the initial four editions, qualified for the final last season. However, in the title clash, they were beaten by Karachi Kings by five wickets here at National Stadium on November 17, 2020.

Lahore boasts of hard-hitting Ben Dunk, David Wiese, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Joe Denly, the world’s top T20 leggie Rashid Khan of Afghanistan, Samit Patel and skipper Sohail Akhtar who is in fine nick with the bat.