Battle for playoff spots heats up

Published: March 12, 2018
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Defying the odds: Quetta have once again been punching above their weight and are odds on to qualify for the playoffs, currently sitting 4 points ahead of fifth-placed Peshawar. PHOTO COURTESY: PSL

Defying the odds: Quetta have once again been punching above their weight and are odds on to qualify for the playoffs, currently sitting 4 points ahead of fifth-placed Peshawar. PHOTO COURTESY: PSL

DUBAI: The Pakistan Super League (PSL) enters the final round of its group stages as the competition goes to the Sharjah Cricket Stadium from March 13, with five teams still vying it out for the four playoff spots.

Lahore Qalandars were eliminated from the competition after Quetta Gladiators won over Peshawar Zalmi by six runs on March 10.

Brendon McCullum’s men have had a miserable outing in the PSL so far and find themselves out of the tournament already.

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What is even more surprising though is that defending champions Peshawar Zalmi are currently in fifth and are odds on to miss out on a playoff spot.

“We have been trying hard,” said Peshawar pacer Wahab Riaz. “We committed some mistakes against Quetta, but in the end it is usually the team that plays well who wins. We have some good bowlers who were effective in Sharjah, so we are optimistic of winning our remaining games in order to do whatever we can to qualify.”

Peshawar’s fate, however, is no longer in their own hands and they need other results to go their way if they are to qualify for the next round.

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One of the teams that can determine Peshawar’s fate is Quetta Gladiators, the team they defeated in last year’s final, and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is confident about his side’s chances as they gain momentum going into the business end of the tournament.

“We are trying to maintain our current momentum by winning games and confirming our place first in the playoffs and then in the final,” he said. “We have two matches left so we can’t afford to rest on our laurels just yet. All the teams are playing well and all of them have key players who are performing well, so we need to be at our best if we are to ensure that nobody beats us.”

Inaugural champions Islamabad, meanwhile, have seen a similar surge in form and are confident of making it into the playoffs in one of the top two spots.

Islamabad skipper Misbahul Haq hailed his bowlers and opening batsmen, stating both sets of players have the ability to turn the game on its head. “Our young bowlers are full of energy and are hungry for wickets, which makes them really effective,” he said. “Spinners Shadab Khan and Zafar Gohar are two assets who can turn the game at any point, while our fast-bowlers also do their job as assigned. We are looking to top the pool by the end of the group stages. That way we will have the chance to qualify for the final directly.”

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