PSL 2019 preview: Peshawar Zalmi
KARACHI: The champion of season 2 of the Pakistan Super League Peshawar Zalmi are a height of consistency. In the game’s most unpredictable format, Zalmi have been consistently so good that they have topped the points table on two occasions and played the final as many times.
Zalmi were the best team at the end of the group stage in the first two season of the PSL. In 2016 edition, they failed to qualify for the final after losing both the Qualifier and Eliminator, but lifted the trophy in 2017 when they defeated Quetta Gladiators in the historic final in Lahore.
In 2018, just when it seemed they would not make it to the playoffs, Zalmi bounced back with four wins in a row and qualified for the final against Islamabad United in Karachi.
With 19 wins out of 33 completed matches, Zalmi’s success percentage (57.57) is second only to the United (59.37).
The two-time ICC T20 World Cup winning skipper Darren Sammy’s spirited leadership has been a vital in Zalmi’s consistent success. Sammy took over the leadership duties from Shahid Afridi and led the team to a title victory in his first year as captain in 2017.
The St Lucia all-rounder also had the highest batting strike-rate (182.75) for any batsman in PSL 2018.
The Zalmi this season have also picked the two-time PSL winning captain Misbah-ul-Haq in the diamond category.
Another big name that has moved to Zalmi for the fourth is the world’s most capped T20 player Kieron Pollard. The West Indian all-rounder comes in the tournament with an experience of 444 T20 matches and is known for his big-hitting as reflected by 560 sixes he has hit in 20 overs cricket. He played the last two seasons for Multan Sultans and Karachi Kings.
Kamran Akmal is the another player who has contributed to Zalmi’s success. He has struck 929 runs at a strike-rate of 133.28 across three edition of the tournament and is likely to become the first batsman to 1000 runs in the HBL PSL.
The Zalmi have built an intense rivalry with the Gladiators. Each of the three games they have played in the playoffs have resulted in a one-run win. The Gladiators won the thrillers in 2016 and 2017, whereas the Zalmi prevailed in 2018.
There will be special eyes on the Zalmi when they take on the Gladiators in their opener of the PSL 2019 in Dubai on February 15.
Squad (in the order of pick):
Overseas: Kieron Pollard (West Indies), Daren Sammy (West Indies), Liam Dawson (England), Dawid Malan (England), Wayne Madsen (England), Andre Fletcher (West Indies), Chris Jordan (England).
Local: Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Kamran Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Amin, Umaid Asif, Khalid Usman, Sohaib Maqsood, Jamal Anwar, Sameen Gul, Nabi Gul, Ibtisam Sheikh, Samiullah.
Match schedule: Vs Quetta Gladiators (N) on Feb 15 at Dubai, Vs Lahore Qalandars (N) on Feb 17 at Dubai, Vs Karachi Kings (N) on Feb 21 at Sharjah, Vs Islamabad United (N) on Feb 22 at Sharjah, Vs Multan Sultans (D) on Feb 24 at Sharjah, Vs Multan Sultans (D) on Feb 28 at Dubai,
Vs Islamabad United (N) on Mar 1 at Dubai, Vs Quetta Gladiators (D) on Mar 4 at Abu Dhabi,
Vs Lahore Qalandars (D) on Mar 5 at Abu Dhabi, Vs Karachi Kings on Mar 7 at Karachi.