LAHORE: Karachi Kings target a home city final in the Pakistan Super League but to achieve that goal they need to beat title holders and spirited team Peshawar Zalmi in the second eliminator in Lahore on Wednesday.
Zalmi were facing ouster from the league as they needed to win their last two games, a task they admirably achieved in United Arab Emirates and when the tournament shifted to Lahore they beat Quetta Gladiators by a mere one run in a repeat of last year’s final.
Under Darren Sammy, Peshawar Zalmi have looked a fighting unit with their pace attack comprising of Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Umaid Asif and Sameen Gul in good wicket taking form while Kamran Akmal leading the batting chart with 347 runs in the tournament.
Karachi Kings have their problems through injuries with their inspirational all-rounder Shahid Afridi out of the match with a sore knee which aggravated during team’s eight wicket defeat in the first qualifier on Sunday.
Skipper Imad Wasim is likely to play in the knock-out game as he has recovered from the head injury sustained in Dubai last week. His replacement as skipper Eoin Morgan opted not to tour Pakistan due to personal reason.
Karachi Kings have got permission from Pakistan Cricket Board to include Twenty20 specialist Mukhtar Ahmed for Wednesday’s game as well as spinner Zulfiqar Babar and Karachi youngster Danish Aziz.
Karachi Kings will also hope their batsmen Babar Azam and Khurram Manzoor return to form after failing in the last game against Islamabad United while bowlers Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari given them crucial wickets.
Zalmi last year ousted Karachi Kings from the second eliminator on their way to the final last year and have also beaten them in the reverse match after losing the first game. They lead the head to head 5-4.
But Karachi Kings will be lucky in case the weather forecast of heavy rain on Wednesday evening comes true as in case of rained off match Karachi Kings will qualify for the final against Islamabad United in Karachi on Sunday.
Peshawar spearhead Wahab Riaz admitted Karachi Kings can come hard on Zalmi.
“Karachi is a balanced team and their bowling attack is also very strong so we have to be at our best to beat them,” said Riaz. “We have the momentum as we have now won three matches in a row so we will be up for the task.”