Both teams have already featured in close contests
Stakes will be high when Quetta Gladiators take on Peshawar Zalmi in their opening match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season four on Friday.
The Gladiators and Zalmi have developed an intense rivalry since the start of the tournament in 2016 as both teams have featured in close contests overs the years.
Both teams have already faced each other in 10 matches, where Darren Sammy-led unit have the upper hand with five victories against Gladiators’ four, whereas one game ended without result.
Last time when both teams faced off in Lahore during PSL3 playoff, it was the Zalmi who secured a narrow one-run victory against the Gladiators despite Anwar Ali’s brilliance.
On paper, both sides are evenly matched and have covered all the departments as per the playing conditions.
In terms of key players, the Gladiators will be enjoying the services of experienced campaigners like former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed and veteran all-rounder Sohail Tanvir.
Those players will be accompanied by exciting youngsters like Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Irfan Jr., and Mohammad Asghar.
However, the team has suffered a massive blow as West Indies’ Sunil Narine will not be able to take part in the first game of the tournament due to injury.
Meanwhile, Zalmi have the services of Pakistan’s most successful captain Misbahul Haq, leading runs scorer in the tournament’s history Kamran Akmal, West Indies explosive all-rounder Kieron Pollard and two-time World T20 winning captain of Darren Sammy in the batting department, which should be enough to destroy any opposition’s bowling lineup on their day.
Inclusion of young Imamul Haq might prove to be another masterstroke as he has the ability to sheet anchor the innings.
On the bowling front, the likes of Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali and Chris Jordan compile a potential match-winning attack.
Sultans eye positive start in PSL4 against Kings
In the other fixture, Karachi Kings will face Multan Sultans at the same venue on Friday. Both teams will take part in the contest hoping that they can improve their previous performances in the competition.
In the only two meetings between the teams, it was the Kings who emerged victorious on one occasion, whereas the other match was washed out.
Under the new management and plenty of new faces, Sultans will feel that they have a good chance of upsetting the Kings.
The team have three former Kings players in the contingent — captain Shoaib Malik, veteran all-rounder Shahid Afrid and opener Joe Denly — and the team management will be hoping the trio can play an important role in upsetting Imad Wasim-led unit.
Meanwhile, Kings also have a member who previously worked with Sultans in their camp — legendary pacer Wasim Akram — who can play a big role in helping the team achieve things they couldn’t in the past.
The game will be played in the afternoon, which means the team might want to bat first and put runs on the board rather than chasing under lights.