KARACHI: The Pakistan Super League (PSL) shifts to the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, with Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United taking on each other in the first match there.
The repeat of first year’s final takes on added meaning considering both teams are currently locked at two points from two games; having won one and lost the other so far.
Both sides come into the game high on confidence after claiming a win in their last games.
“We played really well in our last match against Multan Sultan, who came into that game with two wins in two, and we were able to beat them quite convincingly in the end,” said Islamabad United’s veteran pacer Muhammad Sami, while talking to The Express Tribune. “We were pumped up for that match and gave it our best.”
Sami promised a similar effort in their game against Quetta. “We expect another competitive game against Quetta so we will give it our best to not only entertain the crowd but also to get the two points,” he said.
Islamabad dominated the game against Multan almost from start to finish, having claimed early wickets to account for Multan’s in-form top-order, and Sami says they will be looking to repeat the trick against Quetta. “We took some early wickets [against Multan] and that helped us build pressure and restrict them to a low score,” he said. “Quetta are a tough side and we are both tied on two points so a win is important for both of us.”
Young pacer Faheem Ashraf, who recently claimed Pakistan’s first-ever T20I hat-trick, is also eager to perform against the team of his national captain. “Sarfraz Ahmed has guided me a lot and I have learned a lot from him while playing for the national side,” he said. “Playing against him will be tough but I will try to give it my all. We are hoping that Misbahul Haq will be able to recover and lead the line against Sarfraz; Misbah is an absolute legend of the game and one of the best captains around, so it’s understandable that we have more confidence when he is leading us.”
‘Quetta confident about winning’
Quetta Gladiators all-rounder and Pakistan U19 captain Hasan Khan revealed the confidence running through the side as they take on Islamabad. “Winning the last match [against Lahore Qalandars] in that emphatic a manner gave us a lot of confidence and we will use that against Islamabad,” he said.
“Our batsmen have been performing well so that gives added confidence to our bowlers, who know they can afford to bowl with aggression. The addition of [West Indian pacer] Jofra Archer has also improved the quality in our bowling unit.”
The two-time runners-up have been propelled by Muhammad Nawaz’s performances in the two games so far and the all-rounder is keen to keep his purple patch going. “My figures in the previous match (2-4 in four overs) were exceptional,” he said. “Usually the batsmen are hit all over the park in this format but I was able to claim the wickets of Lahore’s main two batsmen.”
Nawaz, however, admitted it won’t be easy to repeat the heroics. “Islamabad’s batsmen can be much more difficult to bowl to, but I will still try to give my best and do what skipper Sarfraz wants from me,” he said. “Islamabad’s batsmen have the ability to surprise you since they can suddenly switch gears and just a few bad overs are enough to completely change the direction of a game.”