SHARJAH February 19: After two incredibly absorbing games on a super Saturday, Sharjah is ready to host another potential humdinger as Peshawar Zalmi and Karachi Kings take the field today.
The two teams have had a mixed run in the tournament; Kings especially have had to endure a lean run before winning their rain curtailed game against Islamabad United on Friday which gave them their first point of the second season of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Once again captain Kumar Sangakkara and the Kings’ think tank would rely heavily on their in-form batsman Babar Azam who was the difference in the hard fought win against United with a match winning contribution.
Kings’ power packed top-order has been a disappointment so far in the tournament especially the misfiring Chris Gayle who has been dismissed cheaply in each of the first four games. The short Sharjah boundaries and a batsman friendly pitch suit his style of play though and a Gayle spectacle cannot be ruled out today.
All-rounder Ravi Bopara will also be a vital cog in Sangakkara’s armoury, his heroics brought the Kings to with-in a run of a win from an impossible situation in the 2016 Sharjah clash between the two teams.
Zalmi who lost their game against United on the last ball of the match yesterday have all to play for as they seek their third win of the tournament.
The Daren Sammy led team fought tenaciously despite posting a below par score of 136, the bowling attack looks formidable and has the experience to defend almost any total though Sammy must be worried about the lack of runs from his top-order since the opening game against United.
Zalmi too have a few out of form players who need to come good especially with the tournament heading towards the business end.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez who was sent at number three against United has failed to get going so far while Kamran Akmal, Eoin Morgan and middle-order batsman Sohaib Maqsood have also remained inconsistent.
Tamim Iqbal will be the key at the opening slot while the Sharjah diehards would be hoping from a substantial innings from Shahid Afridi who showed glimpses of his former self during his brief innings against United yesterday.