Quetta Gladiators hope their in-form opener Shane Watson will make
Sarfraz Ahmed and Darren Sammy pose with PSL 2019 trophy in Karachi ©PCB
Quetta captain Sarfaraz Ahmed hoped it will be a case of third time lucky.
“We are playing the final for the third time, so we will do our all-out effort to play in the same manner which we have done in the whole tournament,” Sarfaraz told a news conference on the eve of PSL 2019 final.
“If you look at the previous years, there were some factors which hurt us as some players didn’t come,” said Sarfaraz of the Lahore final when Kevin Pietersen and Rilee Rossouw were not available.
Last year, Watson decided to stay away for the Eliminators in Lahore, leaving Quetta depleted. But this time Watson, who has amassed 423 runs in the tournament this year, made a late decision to visit Karachi.
“This time, we are at our full strength, so we will do our best to play like we have done and win the tournament. Obviously, winning the trophy is every captain's wish. We have come close but were not able to win. This time, we will do our best, though we have a strong team against us.”
It is befitting for the PSL final that the two most in-form teams are in the final, finishing with seven wins and three losses each in the first phase.
Peshawar skipper Sammy admitted Watson has plagued his team.
“Shane Watson has really been the pain for us,” said Sammy of the former Australia opener, who has 265 runs at 66.25 in five matches against Peshawar in two years. “He is pretty experienced and he is enjoying his form.”
But Sammy hoped his team will give another knock-out punch.
“Hopefully, it’s a cracker of a game and we find ways and means to execute our plans against them and we will need that but that Shane Watson guy is
Sarfaraz said he was looking for a good platform from his top-order.
“Watson and Umar Akmal are quality players. Watson has played well throughout the tournament and is in-form and it’s good that a top player like him is with us and we are at full strength. We also have Rilee Rossouw, Ahsan Ali and Ahmed Shahzad, so if our top players give the platform, then we will put a good total against the opposition who have a strong bowling line-up.”
Besides Watson, Umar (277 runs in 11 matches), Rossouw (256 in 10 matches) and Shahzad (253 in seven) are in good nick.
Peshawar are more reliant on Kamran Akmal, who Sammy described as his “match-winner”, having knocked off 336 runs in 12 games. Fellow-opener Imam-ul-Haq has justified his selection with 338 runs in 11 matches. They put on 135 to set the platform for an imposing 214 for five against Islamabad, helping their team to a 48-run win.
Peshawar also have a powerful pace attack, led by tournament's highest wicket-taker Hasan Ali who has 25 wickets in 12 matches. Experienced pacer Wahab Riaz has 16, followed by Sameen Gul (10), and Tymal Mills and Umaid Asif (seven each).
But Quetta’s spinners – Mohammad Nawaz and Fawad Ahmed – make the difference with wickets in the middle overs. It will be interesting to see if Liam Dawson gets a go or decide to go in with all pace.
Sarfaraz admitted Fawad Ahmed is doubtful after being hit on the mouth in the Qualifier against Peshawar, which needed surgery.
Sammy hoped it will be another cracker of a game in Karachi.
“I like to be the underdogs,” said Sammy. “To be fair, Quetta are playing some good cricket. The key for us is that our bowling unit has pretty much been the same. Hasan has been playing since his debut and Wahab leading the pack and sharing his experience.
“We have some good players, not superstars but effective players. To be able to make three consecutive finals in a row is an achievement.
“Winning the final tomorrow will really be the icing on the cake.”