DUBAI: Runners-up Quetta Gladiators will be looking to avenge last year’s final defeat when they take on inaugural winners of the Pakistan Super League, Islamabad United, at the Sharjah Stadium.
The match is being touted as the clash between the old and the new, with former Pakistan ODI skipper Misbahul Haq clashing wits with incumbent captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who still plays under Misbah in the Test side.
Sarfraz would be delighted with the way his Quetta side have started, picking up two wins in two games. What has been particularly pleasing for the glovesman would be the contrasting ways in which the two wins came about.
The first saw the Gladiators’ bowlers defend a small 136-run total when looking down and out against Lahore Qalandars, before similar resilience helped them cross the line against Karachi Kings as they chased down a tricky 160-run total despite being 30-3 at one stage.
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That resilience sees Quetta second on the points table, behind Peshawar Zalmi on net run-rate alone. However, the tournament’s only unbeaten side can climb above their Peshawar rivals with a win since they have currently played a match fewer.
“We have won back-to-back matches from tough situations and that will surely help us going forward,” said Sarfraz. “[English left-arm pacer] Tymal Mills has been a good addition since he provides us with the pace that we have been missing. The team has shown guts while being under pressure. We have gotten off to a good start and we hope we get even stronger as the tournament progresses.”
Sarfraz himself scored a half-century in their last game against Kings but South African batsman Rilee Rossouw is perhaps the tournament’s most in-form man and Misbah would know the importance of that wicket.
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Islamabad, on the other hand, fell to defeat against Lahore Qalandars, failing to defend a score of 158 but did win the opening game of the league against Peshawar Zalmi as they chased down the tournament’s highest target so far of 191.
Misbah impressed in the Lahore game, smashing an unbeaten 61 off 36 balls, but will be hoping the star Australian duo of Shane Watson and Brad Haddin can deliver like they did in the first game.
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Meanwhile, Islamabad coach Dean Jones asked fans to watch out for even more improvements in his unbeaten charges' performance.
"Always a pleasure playing at Sharjah," he said. "We are expecting a good crowd to come in. There are some facets of our game that we have particularly focused on after our last game against Lahore Qalandars and we will be implementing those going into the next match."