Peshawar Zalmi got to this stage by ending the miserable campaign of last year’s winners Karachi Kings in Elimination 1 in wee hours of Tuesday. The victory owed a great deal to Afghanistan’s Hazratallah Zazai, whose boundary laden 77 off just 38 balls made the victory possible. Veteran left-arm duo of Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan were excellent again, picking up two wickets apiece for just 29 and 21 runs respectively.
When the last time Zalmi met Islamabad, it was a night for the record books. Islamabad amassed 247 and then Peshawar also batted their hearts out, falling just 15 runs short. That defeat aside, Peshawar have pretty decent record against Islamabad of late, having lost just that one game in their last five meetings.
Over the years though, Peshawar and Islamabad have had a number of close encounters, and their overall head-to-head record stands at an even 7-7.
Islamabad suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Multan Sultans in the qualification game. They will now have a second shot at the final tonight – a perk of having finished as leaders of the round-robin stage.
That defeat ended a run of five straight victories, and the reasons for their defeat were two-fold. First, Akif Javed and Mohammad Wasim, the inexperienced duo in their bowling unit, were exploited by Multan batters. The pacers went for a staggering 94 runs in their combined eight overs. Then, during the run chase, the entire Islamabad batting line-up collapsed, with the sole exception being Usman Khawaja, who score 70 of his team’s 149 runs.
Against a historically difficult opponent such as Peshawar, Islamabad won’t be able to afford such failures.
One notable absentee for Islamabad over the past week has been Muhammad Musa, who hasn’t played since his 3-18 against Lahore on June 13. Perhaps, he has been nursing an injury that hasn’t been reported but, if fit, his return is a must for the capital city side.