Karachi & Lahore chase history in dream HBL PSL 2020 final clash

By Sohail Ali

LAHORE, Nov 16 (APP):A dream final line-up of Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars, a wish of millions of HBL Pakistan Super League fans since its inception, is now true as the two rivals play for the coveted and prestigious trophy at the National Stadium in what should be an epic final on Tuesday night.

After an eight-month Covid-19-enforced break following the end of the group-stage, the HBL PSL playoffs began on Saturday with a thrilling Qualifier, between table-toppers Multan Sultans and Kings. Kings, helped by a stunning bowling performance of Mohammad Amir in the Super Over, held their nerves to book a place in the final.

Qalandars brushed aside Peshawar Zalmi by five wickets in the Eliminator 1 on the back of an unbeaten 74 by Mohammad Hafeez after which David Wiese’s all-round exploits helped the side, who had finished at the bottom of the table in each of the first four seasons, seal a berth in the final with a convincing 25-run win over Sultans in Eliminator 2.

This is the first time these two sides are featuring in a HBL PSL final.

Both sides flaunt top T20 cricketers who have played an integral role in their progression over the course of the tournament.

Karachi Kings’ Babar Azam dominates the chart for the highest run-getters.

He sits at the top with 410 runs at a staggering average of 51.25. He has the most fifties in the tournament to date and his 48 fours are the most hit by any batsman in this edition.

Babar also holds the distinction of being the highest run scorer in T20 cricket this year with 1,179 runs at 53.59.

Alex Hales is another batsman who has been at his destructive best as he has stroked 261 runs at an average of over 52 and a strike rate just under 152.

Mohammad Amir, fresh after delivering an immaculate Super Over, will spearhead Kings’ bowling attack. With 10 wickets in a many matches, he is his side’s leading wicket-taker this edition. The left-arm pacer has an economy rate of 7.44.

Qalandars pace attack is led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, who has had an impressive run in the shorter format in T20 cricket. The left-arm quick leads the list of bowlers with most wickets with 17 scalps at just 17.70 runs per dismissal and an impressive economy of seven.

He is joined by pace-sensation Haris Rauf, who has the most T20 wickets – 50 at an average of 19.48 – in 2020. All-rounder David Wiese and Dilbar Hussain with 12 wickets each are locked at the fourth spot.

Qalandars boast a strong batting unit with Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman and Ben Dunk –placed second, third and fourth, respectively, in the list of top run-getters this season. All three batsmen have scored two half-centuries.

Hafeez has 310 runs at 44.28, while Fakhar Zaman has scored 298 runs at 27.09. Dunk, who has struck most sixes this edition (23), has scored 289 runs at a blistering strike rate of 175 and an average of over 41.

The eagerly anticipated final that will determine a new champion is set to be watched and followed by millions of fans across the globe and in Pakistan on PTV Sports and Geo Super.

Around the world, the broadcast will be beamed on Hum Masala in the UK, Sky New Zealand and Eurosport India.

Live streaming will be available on the official PSL YouTube channel in all regions outside Pakistan, while fans in Pakistan can live stream the playoff stage games on bsports.pk, tapmad.com, tv.jazz.com.pk and goonj.pk

Both captains are eagerly looking forward to the historic occasion.

Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim said on Monday : “It is going to be a big game. I am sure it is not only me, but players in both teams are excited for this contest.

“We played good cricket in the Qualifier but couldn’t finish it off how we wanted to but we are glad that we are in the finals. We are going to go out there express ourselves and I am hopeful we will win the trophy.

“We are going to play the final for Dean Jones who was a father-like figure in our dressing room and a great influence on our team. We want to dedicate the trophy to him, which is an additional motivation for the entire squad.

“We are really looking forward to what is our first HBL PSL final.”

Lahore Qalandars captain Sohail Akhtar said : “It’s a big achievement to reach the final.

The belief that was there for five years has paid off. Our fans have stood by us for five years and now is the time to give them the best possible gift by winning the trophy.

“We will try to build on the momentum we have had and the key for success in the final will be to stick to the basics in both batting and bowling departments.

“Playing the final against Karachi in their own backyard is a massive occasion and I am sure it will have a huge following on TV and social media. We are really excited and looking forward to the game.”

Head to Head:
History favours Kings in the Head to Head between the two sides.
Kings and Qalandars have met on 10 occasions in the HBL PSL with Kings winning six matches.

Qalandars have won three matches plus have an additional victory under their belt, courtesy an exciting Super Over finish in a 2018 edition group-match played in Dubai.

This edition, the two sides shared their two games with Qalandars winning at home (Gaddafi Stadium) by eight wickets and Kings recorded a crushing 10-wicket win at the National Stadium in the return group-stage fixture.