KARACHI: And eventually the wait comes to an end. The HBL PSL-6 is set to resume on Wednesday (today) with the former two-time champions Islamabad United taking on the last edition’s runners-up Lahore Qalandars at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match starts at 9pm PST.
Following massive issues pertaining to venues selection, visas and transport the country’s marquee event is going to return to Abu Dhabi after it was postponed when just 14 games had been hosted by Karachi in February and March this year after seven foreign players and support staff personnel tested positive for Covid-19.
Some overseas players have opted to skip the Abu Dhabi leg due to various reasons. The replacements were picked through mini drafts. Some minor alterations in the rules also came into effect and each outfit now will have to play minimum two foreign players and maximum four in the playing XI.
Islamabad United lost Phil Salt, Lewis Gregory, Alex Hales and Janneman Malan and brought in Usman Khawaja, Brandon King and Umar Amin.
David Wiese, Joe Denly, Shakib-Al-Hasan, Samit Patel and Tom Abell were not available for Lahore Qalandars and they brought in Sri Lanka’s Seekkuge Prasanna, Joe Burns, Sultan Ahmed, Tim David, Callum Ferguson, James Faulkner and world-class leggie Rashid Khan for the Abu Dhabi leg.
Both teams, tied on six points each after four matches each, look balanced and it will be seen how they tackle the Abu Dhabi’s heat and dew factor.
Islamabad United assistant coach Saeed Ajmal is confident his side will give tough time to Lahore Qalandars. “Yes, our team has been preparing for the last five to six days and it lookes well-gelled and will give tough time to Qalandars,” Ajmal said.
“We have held five training sessions both day and night and players are perfectly fit. Hasan Ali is in positive mood and is bowling well. Faheem Ashraf is doing well both in batting and bowling. Colin Munro is batting well too. The team is ready,” said Ajmal, a former Pakistan off-spin wizard.
Lahore Qalandars’ skipper Sohail Akhtar said they have a balanced combination. “We have a good combination and the attitude of foreign players is also very good. All are gelled, enjoying and will try our level best to field a very good team,” Sohail told a news conference on Tuesday.
“All teams are balanced. You cannot take any team lightly in T20 cricket,” he said.
Multan Sultans’ skipper and Pakistan’s wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan leads the batting chart with 297 runs. He is followed by Karachi Kings’ Babar Azam (258) and Sharjeel Khan (200), Lahore Qalandars’ Fakhar Zaman (189) and Quetta Gladiators skipper Sarfraz Ahmad (185).
Peshawar Zalmi’s English paceman Saqib Mahmood tops the bowling chart with 12 scalps. He is followed by Lahore Qalandars’ Shaheen Shah Afridi and Multan Sultans’ Shahnawaz Dhani who have nine wickets each. Zalmi’s skipper Wahab Riaz has claimed eight wickets.
Aleem Dar and Rashid Riaz will serve as on-field umpires while Shozab Raza will be the third umpire and Faisal Afridi, the fourth umpire. Mohammad Anees will be the match referee.
Islamabad United: Shadab Khan (captain), Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Ali Khan, Akif Javed, Asif Ali, Brandon King, Colin Munro, Fawad Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Mohammad Akhlaq, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Umar Amin, Usman Khawaja, Zafar Gohar, Zeeshan Zameer
Lahore Qalandars: Sohail Akhtar (captain), Ahmed Danyal, Ben Dunk, Callum Ferguson, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, James Faulkner, Maaz Khan, Mohammad Faizan, Mohammad Hafeez, Rashid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Seekuge Prasana, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sultan Ahmed, Tim David, Zaid Alam, Zeeshan Ashra.
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