KARACHI: What will the approach be like when two sides occupying top slots clash with one of them possibly not even assured of progressing through to the playoffs in the HBL Pakistan Super League? This is exactly the permutation which now confronts Peshawar Zalmi when they clash face-to-face with Multan Sultans at the National Stadium here on Friday night.
Peshawar, the champions of the 2017 edition, have never missed out on a Qualifier berth in the PSL history. Barring the 2018 competition when they finished third behind eventual champions Islamabad United and Karachi Kings, Peshawar have always topped the league standings. They did, however, reached the final two years here in Karachi.
In the ongoing tournament, Peshawar Zalmi are second in the six-team standings — three points behind surprise leaders Multan Sultans, who are already assured of playing Tuesday’s Qualifier at the National Stadium — with nine points ahead of their final preliminary-round encounter. While a win against Shan Masood’s men would put Peshawar through to the playoffs, a defeat will complicate the scenario from Peshawar’s perspective.
In the corresponding clash on Feb 26, Multan Sultans clinched a six-wicket in their own backyard at the Multan Cricket Stadium after former Pakistan seamer Sohail Tanvir’s 4-13 sent Peshawar Zalmi packing up for 123 in 18.3 overs. The hosts duly sealed the game after stuttering to 47-4 on the back of an unfinished 77-run partnership between Rille Rossouw and Khushdil Shah, reaching the target with 31 deliveries to spare.
Since that loss, the Peshawar Zalmi camp has undergone a major reshuffle with long-time captain Darren Sammy quitting to take up the head coach position with Wahab Riaz taking over the captaincy.
Peshawar Zalmi played twice at the National Stadium in the first week of the tournament, losing to Karachi Kings by 10 wickets before a whirlwind Kamran Akmal century — 101 off 55 balls — propelled them to a six-wicket victory against holders Quetta Gladiators.
In the head-to-head count Multan Sultans have a 3-2 lead over Peshawar Zalmi and if they succeed in securing another win against them on Friday, they will be guaranteed a top-place finish with six victories from nine matches.
Meanwhile, two of Peshawar Zalmi players — Hasan Ali and Yasir Shah — received stern warning from Mohammad Akram, the franchise’s director of cricket operations, over their childish behaviour a couple of days ago which went viral on the social media.
Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2020