Lahore final will help revive cricket in Pakistan: Sarfraz

Pakistan limited-overs skipper will lead his Quetta Gladiators side at Gaddafi on Sunday

Nabil Tahir March 04, 2017
We have other international players joining the team tomorrow, says Sarfraz Ahmed. PHOTO: PSL

SHARJAH: For the second year running, Quetta Gladiators became the first team to qualify for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final. And while they lost the inaugural edition’s decider to Misbahul Haq’s Islamabad United, they will be looking to go one better this time around in what will be an emotional affair at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.

Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) decision to host the final in Lahore has divided opinion but Quetta skipper Sarfraz Ahmed believes it is a step in the right direction.

The 29-year-old feels a successful final this time around can open the doors for international cricket to return to the country, with the PCB also promising to host more matches in the country next year; including a final in Sarfraz’s hometown of Karachi.

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“We are looking forward to a good and exciting final,” said Sarfraz, while talking to The Express Tribune. “This will be good for the country as well as fans of cricket across the world since this can help bring back cricket to the country.”

Quetta know they will be up against it due to the absence of their star foreign players. The English trio of Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and Tymal Mills, along with South African Rilee Rossouw have all opted out of featuring in the final in Lahore and Sarfraz admitted that will be a big blow to the side.

Pietersen, Mills and Rossouw have all played pivotal roles in Quetta’s run to the final, and the wicketkeeper-batsman admitted that Gladiators will find it hard to replace them.

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“It will have an effect on the team in the absence of our foreign players but we have other international players joining the team tomorrow, so we will try to pick the best side we can for the final,” he said, discussing the list of 15 players who have agreed to play in the PSL final. “However, the likes of Pietersen and Mills will be difficult to replace.”

The Quetta side consists of players — such as Asad Shafiq, Anwar Ali, Zulfiqar Babar and Sarfraz himself — who have been playing international or domestic cricket together for a long time. And Sarfraz believes this leaves them in good stead. “Our local players have been playing cricket together for a very long time and that has helped us gel better than most teams,” said Sarfraz. “This will be key for us in the final.”