Defending champions Peshawar Zalmi, fresh from their nail-biter of a win over Quetta Gladiators on Thursday, look to pile further misery upon bottom side Lahore Qalandars when the two clash in the late game at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on March 3.
Zalmi will be sweating over the fitness of talismanic skipper Darren Sammy, who was instrumental in delivering that close win over Quetta as he smashed 16 runs off just four balls to take his side over the line.
Peshawar’s highest scorer in that game against Quetta, Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal, said his side have proven they have the character and mental strength to win difficult games.
“We have seen in all the matches that this team has played till now that every player his giving it his all in order to help the side win,” he said. “We play as a team and every player puts in his best — whether it be in bowling, batting or fielding — to make the team win. Sammy has been leading the side brilliantly and the way he finished the last game showed how committed he is to the team’s cause. Despite being injured, he came out and turned the game on its head with some lusty blows.”
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The left-handed opener revealed he aims to score at least a half-century in every game he plays. “My job is to go out there and score at least a half-century in every game,” he said. “Anything more than that is a bonus. I try to go out there and stay out there in the middle for as long as I can. If I am able to do that then it gives other players the required motivation and confidence to perform.”
Lahore may have finished as the bottom side in the opening two editions and seem on course to suffer the same fate this time around as well but Tamim refuses to rule out Brendon McCullum and his men.
“Teams can bounce back and come back stronger at any time in the league,” he said. “All teams are quality so we can expect anything from them and have to be prepared for it. We have prepared ourselves well for the Lahore game. Our bowlers bowled really well in the last five overs against Quetta and if they can do so again then it will really help us win the game.”
Lahore eager to bounce back
Lahore Qalandars are looking for improvement and coach Aqib Javed minced no words when discussing his side’s performances in the first three games.
“The players have played incredibly poorly so far,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting them to perform in this manner. We were winning the game against Karachi Kings but poor decision making ultimately cost us the game.”
Aqib, however, refuses to rule his side out of the playoff race just yet. “We have worked on our skills and mentality in training,” he said. “The boys just have to keep their focus and make the right decisions at the right time because the margins here are so fine that one wrong decision can turn the game on its head.”