Two former champions of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi will lock horns today to kick off their seventh edition campaign at the National Stadium Karachi.
The match starts at 07:30 PM (PST).
Zalmi will be without their skipper, Wahab Riaz, as the left-arm pacer has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently isolating. The veteran all-rounder of the Pakistan cricket team Shoaib Malik will lead the 2017-champions against Quetta Gladiators.
Apart from Wahab Riaz, Zalmi will be without Kamran Akmal, and pacer Arshad Iqbal, who are both in quarantine following positive COVID-19 tests a few days ago.
Meanwhile, Gladiators' star player Shahid Afridi has also tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss multiple games.
In the last two seasons of the PSL, Zalmi won all four matches against the Gladiators. The previous two seasons have been difficult for the Purple Force as they have been playing without a full-strength squad.
Sarfaraz is confident with his team's bowling line-up this season.
"This time around, I'm more confident in my bowling, and I'm hopeful that our bowling line-up will put up a strong performance," said Sarfaraz.
Gladiators have the upper hand this time around as they have a balanced and experienced squad, along with the energy of young blood. And, with the absence of their key players, including skipper and lead bowler Wahab Riaz and experienced Kamran Akmal, Zalmi will face difficulties while facing a balanced Quetta Gladiators.
Since the beginning of the PSL, the two sides have proved to be formidable opponents. Both teams have encountered 17 times, with Peshawar Zalmi having a slight edge over the Gladiators as they have won nine matches, while the Gladiators have won eight games.
Pakistan's young pace ace Mohammad Hasnain, who had an outstanding stint with the Sydney Thunders in the Big Bash League (BBL), will be the key for Quetta Gladiators this season. With sheer pace, Hasnain will be a threat to Zalmi's batting line-up.
Australian James Faulkner, who has been extraordinary in the shortest format of the game throughout his career, is surely a decisive player for the Gladiators with his experience and exceptional performances with the bat and ball.
Meanwhile, Zalmi's Liam Livingstone, with his spectacular power-hitting ability, will be a headache to the Gladiators' bowlers.
The responsibility of pace bowling will drop over the shoulders of England's Saqib Mahmood in the absence of Wahab. He had shown his class in his last stint in the PSL, and if he carries on his form, he could be a huge threat to the Gladiators with the new ball.
Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt), Shimron Hetmyer, Will Smeed, James Faulkner, Mohammad Nawaz, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah, Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Ben Duckett, Khurram Shahzad, Luke Wood, Abdul Bangalzai, Asher Qureshi, Ali Imran, Ahsan Ali, Dan Lawrence, Ghulam Mudassar
Shoaib Malik (c), Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Sherfane Rutherford, Saqib Mahmood, Liam Livingstone, Haider Ali, Hussain Talat, Hazratullah Zazai, Usman Qadir, Salman Irshad, Arshad Iqbal, Sameen Gul, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Amir Khan, Ben Cutting, Mohammad Haris