SHARJAH February 28: After a gripping opening stage full of pulsating encounters, the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017 moves towards the business end as Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators square-up for the first Play-off at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium tonight.
The clash tonight is a repeat of last year’s play-off between the two teams which is widely regarded as the most nerve-wracking encounter of the HBL PSL 2016. In front of a packed Dubai International Cricket Stadium the two teams fought till the very end before Gladiators sealed an improbable win to book their place in the final.
The winner tonight will cement their spot in the HBL PSL 2017 final set to take place at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on March 5.
Zalmi who had lost a couple of closely fought encounters in the Sharjah leg roared back to clinch the top slot in the rankings courtesy two fine wins over Lahore Qalandars and Quetta Gladiators in Dubai last week.
Former captain and T20 legend Shahid Afridi is in top form with the bat with two heroic innings of 54 and 45* against Karachi Kings and Gladiators. Opener Kamran Akmal has also made useful contributions to the team while the bowling attack is arguably the best in the competition with Wahab Riaz, Hassan Ali, Afridi, Mohammad Asghar and Mohammad Hafeez making life tough for the opposition.
Gladiators started the 2017 edition on a high with a thrilling Kevin Pietersen innings against Qalandars that helped the team overhaul a 200 run target. After some sparkling performances Gladiators have endured a dip in form with defeats against United and Zalmi in their last two encounters which has pushed them to the number two spot.
Overall though the Gladiators are known for the resilience and never-say-die attitude and captain Sarfraz Ahmed, coach Moin Khan and mentor Vivian Richards are all ready to pump up the players for the big encounter.