Peshawar Zalmi head coach Darren Sammy attends a training session along with players as Hashim Amla looks on. Reuters
A resurgent Lahore Qalandars will look to extend their dream run at the Pakistan Super League (PSL) with a victory over Karachi Kings in a mouth-watering semi-final on Tuesday.
Lahore have finally managed to break the jinx and are ready to feature in the playoff for the first time in five editions.
Both the teams started their campaign in contrasting ways with Karachi topping the table early on and Lahore fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.
A resilient Lahore saw a turnaround of the fortunes in the later stages and won five of their last seven matches to book a spot in last four.
A Ben Dunk-inspired Lahore defeated Karachi at the same venue before the latter avenged the loss by beating them four days later.
Neither of the two teams have reached the final before and this will be a golden opportunity for either of them to lay down their hands on the trophy.
However, Lahore will not be able to avail the services of Chris Lynn, hero of the last match and the man who steered them to the semi-final with a cracking unbeaten 113 against Multan.
As he has flown back home. David Wiese has also returned home due to the coronavirus fear. Lahore will pin hopes on Fakhar Zaman, who returned to form with two fifties, and Dunk, who inspired them to two victories in the group stages.
Shaheen Afridi is likely to spearhead the bowling charge in Wiese’ absence. Samit Patel will take care of the spin department, giving a balanced act to the bowling attack.
While, Karachi look more balanced and composite. They do not depend on one or two big names and all the players have had their contribution in team’s run-up to the semi-finals.
Babar Azam and Sharjeel Khan are in great form. And despite the departure of Cameron Delport, Imad Wasim and Chadwick Walton are there to consolidate the middle order. Mohammed Amir can be a dangerous customer in these conditions as well.
In the other semi-final, Peshawar Zalmi will look to book their berth in final when they meet the other first time semi-finalist Karachi Kings.
Karachi qualified for the last four despite losing their final group stage game against Quetta Gladiators. After their fourth win of the tournament, Gladiators, the defending champions, were tied with Peshawar on nine points, but couldn’t secure a semi-final berth due to a low net run rate.
Shane Watson and Khurram Manzoor scored half-centuries and added 118 runs for the second wicket as Gladiators chased down the 151-run target with 22 balls to spare, which was enough to take them through to the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Zalmi’s former captain Darren Sammy is likely to be a part of his side in their encounter against Multan Sultans’ during the first semi-final of the Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL) season five.
According to details, Sammy spent more than an hour in the practice nets at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, on Monday, while working on his batting technique. He faced fast-bowlers such as Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali and Rahat Ali during the practice session and played with intent — hitting multiple balls beyond the boundary line.
Peshawar Zalmi’s current head coach has played four matches in the ongoing HBL PSL 5 as the captain of the franchise. Fast-bowler Wahab Riaz succeeded Sammy as the franchise captain after the latter assumed the responsibilities of the head coach. The franchise, however, left the door open to include Sammy in the playing XI if the need arose.
All foreign players, who were earlier part of the side, of the Zalmi franchise have left the country amid the global coronavirus outbreak. The franchise will now have to rely on the services of Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza, who was brought in as a replacement, and Sammy during the remaining matches. In the event that Sammy is part of the playing XI, the captain would still be Wahab Riaz.
South Africa’s former batsman Hashim Amla is also with the side facilitating training and practice sessions. However, the South African is a mentor in the side and cannot be part of the playing XI.
Officials in the Peshawar Zalmi camp have clarified that a final decision would be taken on the morning of the match. Sammy had previously participated in a training session in Karachi as well.
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