As the PSL bandwagon heads into its final stages, the focus shifts to Pakistan from the UAE as the two eliminators and Final will be played out at Lahore and Karachi.
While Islamabad United bulldozed their way into the final, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, who played the final last year in front of a packed stadium in Pakistan will once again meet, albeit, in the first eliminator today.
As with last year, there will be some notable overseas absentees. Peshawar will keep most of their stars, which was a key part of their success last year, with only Dwayne Smith opting out. Shakib Al Hasan will replace him.
By contrast, Quetta will definitely be without their batting kingpin, Kevin Pietersen. The storied former England batsman confirmed he would not be going to Pakistan by confirming his retirement from cricket when the playoffs were confirmed. “Boots up! Thank you!” he wrote in a tweet on Friday.
Eoin Morgan, who captained Karachi in the absence of Imad Wasim (out with concussion), is the only overseas players to opt out for the team.
How it Works
The playoffs use a system similar to the Indian Premier League, rather than the more conventional, first-plays-fourth and second-plays-third format used in football and rugby, for example.
Islamabad and Karachi finished first and second in the regular season table and met in the first qualifier. The winner (Islamabad) went directly through to the final in Karachi on Sunday March 25 while the losers (Karachi) get a second chance – reward for finishing the season placed higher in the table than the other two teams – in the second eliminator on Wednesday.
Here’s how we see this play out
Peshawar Zalmi has lost three of the last five matches against the Quetta Gladiators but only one out of the last three – though clear favorites going into this match, expect Quetta Gladiators to come up with an upset.
Our Super 8 for today
Shakib Al Hasan
Who is your Super 8?