Tuesday Mar 13, 2018 | By: Khalid Hussain
DUBAI: Peshawar Zalmi came to the UAE as defending champions of the HBL Pakistan Super League. They had big hopes of defending the coveted title and not without reason.
But as PSL 3 enters its business end, Zalmi are facing a tough battle for survival. They are languishing at fifth place with six points just ahead of Lahore Qalandars, who have already stumbled out of the competition.
Peshawar will follow suit if they fail to win back-to-back matches against Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars in Sharjah on Thursday and Friday.
Even if they manage to win both the games, Zalmi could still crash out because the other four teams – Quetta Gladiators (10), Islamabad United (10), Karachi Kings (9) and Multan Sultans (9) are in a better position to move into the playoffs in Lahore.
But if Javed Afridi, the passionate owner of Zalmi, is disappointed with his team’s showing then he is hiding it well.
“Winning and losing is part of the game,” he told ‘The News’ with a big smile. “Last year we were the best team and went on to win the title. This year has been tough but I must say that the team has my complete backing and I’m happy with the way it has progressed,” he added during an interview at the Inter-Continental.
Peshawar’s title campaign has been hit hard by a variety of issues like injuries and player availability.
But Afridi was confident that his team has the ability to bounce back and win the last two games in Sharjah.
“Yes unfortunately, we have had a few injury issues, both before and during the tournament. Dwayne Bravo had his issues with fitness, Shakib wasn’t fully fit either,” said Afridi.
“Hasan Ali got injured during the New Zealand tour and that was a huge blow for us. Darren Sammy also got injured during the match and that was a major setback for us.
“Having said that, we are focussed and determined to do well in the last two matches,” he added.
Afridi hailed the role of Sammy, the West Indian star who is at the helm of Peshawar’s title campaign.
“Darren is a great team man. His work ethic and sportsmanship is second to none. We are very fortunate to have him as our leader. He has gelled with the team very well and he is taking us forward,” Afridi said.
Zalmi was able to bring it entire team to Pakistan unlike Quetta Gladiators for the final last year. Afridi said he was honoured to play a role in bringing international players to Pakistan.
“I feel honoured to be able to bring all my international players to Lahore for the Pakistan Super League final. Daren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Chris Jordan and Dawid Malan were really kind to agree and come to Pakistan. That set a benchmark for others to follow,” he said.
Javed was confident that his foreign stars will have no hesitation in travelling to Pakistan if Peshswar made it to the playoffs.
“Yes I’m very hopeful that all the foreign Peshawar Zalmi players will visit Pakistan this season as well. We are confident as a team of qualifying for the playoffs and the players are excited on the prospect of playing in Pakistan once again. This serves as a motivation for us to do well in the remaining matches.”
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