By the end of the night on Tuesday (November 17), we will have a new PSL champion. But for the Pakistan Cricket Board, what matters the most is the bigger picture. A tournament that has grown in stature ever since the first edition in 2016 finally took a giant leap when the organisers decided to state the entire edition in Pakistan for the first time in 2020. But the Covid-19 pandemic brought it to a screeching halt just before the knockout phase. The PCB finally managed to find a window to complete the tournament and are just one game away from successfully completing their target which will hold them in good stead while approaching more teams to tour the country in the future.
The three games since the restart have been quality. Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars battled past table-toppers Multan Sultans, who were severely affected by the non-availability of some of their players, to reach their maiden PSL final. Both teams have a lot at stake going into this massive clash. For Lahore, a win in the final can help them erase the bitter memories of the four previous editions where they finished bottom. And for Karachi, it could turn out to be an extremely emotional final with the franchise repeatedly stating they want to win this for their late head coach Dean Jones.
In Babar Azam and Alex Hales, Karachi have two cracking players at the top of the order. Babar scored a fifty in the first qualifier and has been leading the run charts this edition. In the bowling department, Mohammad Amir made headlines on Saturday delivering a terrific Super Over to cement his side’s place in the final. But will Karachi be rusty when compared to Lahore, who managed to play two games since the restart? Some of the national team players have been in the groove after playing against Zimbabwe recently but the rest have had a long break in the format.
Mohammad Hafeez dazzled against Peshawar Zalmi and openers Tamil Iqbal and Fakhar Zaman have some runs under their belt as well in these two games. Skipper Sohail Akhtar and overseas recruit Ben Dunk didn’t fire but the Australian was one of their top performers earlier in the year when the tournament was in full swing. Lahore will also be buoyed by the performances of allrounder David Wiese who has already chipped in with two cameos in two games apart from picking up five wickets. While Karachi have Amir to lead their attack, Lahore’s attack is being led by the young sensation Shaheen Afridi who has also been in very good form. It is indeed pretty hard to separate these two well-matched sides. The final could well be a clash between home advantage and momentum.