Match Preview – Sultans vs Zalmi, PSL 2020/21-2021, Final
Who between Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi will make the occasion their own?
Given how unlikely it looked at various stages over the last few months, just to be at this stage now, the final of the sixth season of the PSL between the Multan Sultans and the Peshawar Zalmi, is a bit of a triumph.
Not only did a resumption of the season look a distant prospect in the days right after it was disrupted, even until the final few days before the resumption there were moments when it was off one minute, on the next. It could have moved to Dubai and Sharjah; there was prolonged confusion over when – and even which – players could get into Abu Dhabi; there was concern over arrivals on different dates from different countries impacting quarantine periods; at one stage, with the prospect of production crews not being allowed from India and South Africa, the whole thing could have been off.
So, in the short but already tumultuous history of the PSL, it matters less who wins on Thursday evening than that it is happening at all. Except, of course, this is not how sportsmen think. They don’t much care for the improbability of an occasion happening as much as making that occasion theirs.
Peshawar Zalmi: W W L W L
Multan Sultans: W L W W W
In the spotlight
As unlikely as Maqsood but lesser noted has been Imran Khan’s impact for the Sultans. He’s rarely been thought of as a bowler for the format – he’d only played one game in the PSL before this season. But, in very Umar Gul ways, he’s become their joint-second highest wicket-taker.
How’s this for impact? Jonathan Wells came out of quarantine on June 20, he had a special net session on Tuesday and then turned up for his first game for the Zalmi in the evening. He was overshadowed by Zazai but his unbeaten 55 was every bit as crucial in calming nerves in the chase.
Pitch and conditions
A wild guess: it will be hot.
Abu Dhabi’s pitches, on the other hand, have not been so predictable and a bit of everything has been on display during the last fortnight. Some new-ball swing, turn, reverse, 200+ totals, sub-100 totals; unlike the Karachi leg it isn’t so easy to win the toss and chase.
Peshawar Zalmi: Hazratullah Zazai, Kamran Akmal (wk), Jonathan Wells, Shoaib Malik, Rovman Powell, Sherfane Rutherford, Amad Butt, Wahab Riaz (capt), Umaid Asif, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Imran.
Multan Sultans: Shan Masood, Mohammad Rizwan (capt & wk), Sohaib Maqsood, Rilee Roussouw, Johnson Charles, Khushdil Shah, Sohail Tanvir, Imran Tahir, Blessing Muzarabani, Imran Khan, Shahnawaz Dahani.
“We have played so well and we have played as a team. The best thing from the first leg was that throughout we never blamed anyone for a mistake. This is a team where every individual has a very important role, in the XI or the ones sitting outside. Our morale and momentum is high.”
“We looked like a team that would be eliminated, but we really stuck together. People will single certain people out but I’d like to praise the guys as a group. We didn’t quite play as badly in Karachi, and lost a few tight games, but we have executed our plans perfectly here.”
Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo