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ALL EYES ARE ON ZALMI.
The current champions of Pakistan Super League are all set to defend their title. Undoubtedly they always have been the favourites in the league. But this time they might feel the absence of Lala, who is now part of Karachi Kings. The sammy-led team still have key batsmen like Kamran Akmal and Tamim Iqbal.
In the inaugural season of PSL, Zalmi outclassed almost every team with their all-around performance. They won their first two matches and then they faced defeat by Gladiators. They won six of their eight group matches and topped the points table, followed by Quetta.
In the first playoff match, they had to face Quetta. Zalmis were unable to achieve the chasuble total of 134 runs and lost the match by one run. But as they were on the top of the table, they got another chance. This time they had to face ISLU boys in an eliminator match. Sharjeel Khan’s blustering century made things difficult for Zalmis and they were knocked out of the tournament by losing to Islamabad United.
In the second season of Pakistan Super League, the Javed Afridi owned Zalmi team decided to give the captaincy to Darren Sammy, who was the part of the team since the inaugural season, and was also the captain of West Indies squad and led them to win T20 World Cup twice.
They did not start their second season well as they lost the first match against the defending champions Islamabad United. But then won matches against Karachi Kings and a low-scoring thriller against Lahore Qalandars.
They had a losing streak in Sharjah but soon they got back on the track in Dubai by registering consecutive wins against Quetta and Lahore Qalandars. The former captain Shahid Afridi proved its worth by off-loading the responsibility of captaincy from his shoulders. He was the key hard-hitting batsman of Peshawar who won many games for them and also performed well with the ball.
Skipper Darren Sammy and Afridi recorded pretty good partnerships that gave tough time to the opponents.
At the end of round-robin, Zalmis again topped the points table. It seemed like a flashback memory as Zalmi had to face Quetta in the first playoffs match. AND Gladiators again snatched the victory from the Zalmis by ONE RUN. It was very upsetting and depressing for the Sammy’s eleven.
In the eliminator match against Karachi Kings, Kamran Akmal silenced his opponents by scoring a century in a must-win match for his team. Chris Jordan and Wahab Riaz took three wickets each and led their team to the finals for the first time.
Now, Zalmis had to face Quetta Gladiators in the final match that was to be played in Lahore, Pakistan. Star players of Quetta refused to play in Pakistan for security and personal reasons. All credits must be given to the owner of Peshawar Zalmi, Javed Afridi who convinced all his overseas players to play in Pakistan. Key players Darren Sammy, Chris Jordan, and David Millan agreed with their owner and decided to play in Pakistan.
They played a key role in reviving the cricket back in Pakistan. And we all are still thankful to the Peshawar Zalmi owner, management, skipper Darren Sammy, who was also became the part of World XI team that toured Pakistan for 3-matches series.
Consequently, Gladiators did not have their key foreign players and Zalmis lifted the PSL trophy by winning the match by 58 runs.
For the third season, Sammy’s squad might have few disadvantages as Lala is not in their squad. Plus Shakib-ul-Hassan will not be joining them and Tamim will also leave for national duty by 4 March. Their star-bowler Hassan Ali is also suffering from an injury and might not play until he’s fit. Another setback Zalmis had to face is that Caribbean player Bravo will also be not available.
Let’s see what Sammy can pull with the current squad.
Batsmen: Rikki Wessels (replaced Evin Lewis), Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Arif, Khushdil Shah, Taimur Sultan, Ibtisam Sheikh
All-rounders: Mohammad Hafeez, Shakib Al Hasan, Darren Sammy (captain), Haris Sohail, Dwayne Bravo, Hammad Azam, Saad Nasim, Khalid Usman
Wicket-keepers: Kamran Akmal, Andre Fletcher
Bowlers: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Asghar, Sameen Gul
Player Covers: Liam Dawson (cover for Shakib al Hasan), Umaid Asif (cover for Hasan Ali
Find Complete Schedule of Pakistan Super League’s third edition: Click Here