Islamabad United, Peshawar Zalmi face off in PSL 2017 opener

DUBAI: Defending champions Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi are all set to clash in the Pakistan Super League 2017 opener today (Thursday).

Islamabad United, Peshawar Zalmi face off in PSL 2017 opener

Islamabad United, Peshawar Zalmi face off in PSL 2017 opener

Islamabad had a rough start to the inaugural PSL edition last year. After four heavy defeats in their first six games, almost everybody had written off Misbah’s men. However, the team rose from the ashes to claim the championship and will look to leave no stone unturned in successfully defending their title.

Peshawar Zalmi ended last year’s season at the top of the table but were eliminated in the playoffs by none other than Islamabad United. A hot favourite among the fans since the very start, the team’s unexpected elimination had broken the hearts of millions. This time around, the team will look to avenge their defeat. Sammy, a two-time ICC World T20 winning captain, will be leading Peshawar for the first time, after last year’s captain Shahid Afridi handed him the captaincy.

Head to head

Islamabad United clashed with Peshawar Zalmi thrice in last year’s PSL, out of which Zalmi won two and United won one match.

Peshawar Zalmi won the first clash by 24 runs and the second by 7 wickets. In the third face-off between the two teams, Islamabad United won by 50 runs in the playoffs, eliminating Zalmi from the tournament.

In the spotlight

Islamabad United have retained 17 players from last season. The team is comprised of mostly veterans, including Misbah-ul-Haq, Shane Watson, Saeed Ajmal, Samuel Badree, Mohammad Sami and Brad Haddin, all of whom are over 35 years old.

But the team has some aggressive young blood in the form of English wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Duckett, who is a supplementary player, and another English wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Billings, known for his explosive batting.

The leading wicket-taker of last year’s edition, Andre Russell, is not playing this time due to a doping ban. He has been replaced by English bowler Steven Finn, a welcome addition to the team’s bowling lineup.

Peshawar Zalmi have been boosted by the presence of England’s limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, who brings his batting expertise as well as leadership skills to the team.

Hasan Ali, who proved to be a valuable addition to Pakistan’s bowling lineup in the otherwise dismal tour to Australia, will be looking to repeat his red-hot form for the Zalmi.

The Zalmi will also be relying on the experience of veterans Mohammad Hafeez, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Wahab Riaz. Haris Sohail, whose return to cricket has been much-awaited by the fans, will finally be seen in action for the Zalmi and will bring some much-needed stability to the top order.

The Islamabad United vs Peshawar Zalmi season opener will kick off at 9:00 PM (PST) following a star-studded opening ceremony at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Squads

Islamabad United: Misbah ul Haq (captain), Shane Watson, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Samuel Badree, Mohammad Sami, Khalid Latif, Brad Haddin, Sam Billings, Hussain Talat, Amad Butt, Dwayne Smith, Zohaib Khan, Ben Duckett, Shadab Khan, Ruman Raees, Saeed Ajmal, Imran Khalid, Asif Ali, Syed Muzammil Shah, Steven Finn

Support staff:  Owner: Leonine Global Sports, Director/Bowling Coach: Wasim Akram, Head Coach: Dean Jones (Australia), Assistant Coach: Tauseef Ahmed, Fielding Coach: Johan Botha (South Africa), Co-Manager: Rehan ul Haq, Co-Manager: Hasan Naeem

Peshawar Zalmi: Darren Sammy (captain), Shahid Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood, Eoin Morgan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hafeez, Chris Jordan, Kamran Akmal, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Asghar, Khushdil Shah, Junaid Khan, Imran Khan Jr, M. Irfan Khan, Marlon Samuels, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Samit Patel, Dawid Malan

Support staff: Owner: Javed Afridi (Haier Pakistan), CEO: Zeeshan Afzal, Manager: Abdul Rehman, President Peshawar Zalmi: Shahid Afridi, Head Coach/Director: Mohammad Akram, Batting Coach/Mentor: Younis Khan, Fielding Coach/Fitness Trainer: Grant Luden (South Africa)

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