Both these teams got the final by beating the same opponent: the previously unbeatable looking Islamabad United. Multan Sultans defeated the capital city side by 31 runs whereas Peshawar Zalmi were even more dominant, getting to the two-time champions’ 175-run target with more than three overs and eight wickets to spare.
The Wahab Riaz-led side was excellent as soon as the match started, picking up the prized wicket of Usman Khawaja in the very first over and then not relenting until the score was 110-8 in the 16th over and a one-sided match was one the cards. A brief letup allowed Hasan Ali to play an extraordinary 16-ball 45-run innings that beefed up the score to 174.
During the run chase, Peshawar, too, lost their first wicket in the opening over but then followed carnage, the orchestrator of which was Afghan national Hazratallah Zazai, who contributed a boundary laden 66 off 44 to form a 126-run stand for the second wicket with Jonathan Wells (55*). Shoaib Malik chipped in with a 10-ball 32 to win the match for Zalmi .
The manner of their win is quite similar to the manner of their defeat to Multan Sultans, the last time these two met on June 13. The Sultans had won by eight wickets and 21 balls to spare that night.
Zazai and Wells’ knocks mean that there is virtually no chance of out-of-form Haider Ali getting a nod for the final.
Multan Sultans were not as dominant as Peshawar were in their playoffs win over Islamabad but they were still the team to beat in the Abu Dhabi leg of PSL 2021. The side from South Punjab has lost just once since the league resumed, and that defeat, too, came when they rested a number of their regulars.
Thus, it would be fair to say that Multan will be deemed the hotter of two teams – a point accentuated by the fact that they have their players hovering at the top of or near all the main statistical categories. Shahnawaz Dahani is the leading wicket taker of the tournament, while Mohammad Rizwan and Sohaib Maqsood sit second and third respectively on the chart of leading runs scorers, behind only Babar Azam.
It doesn’t mean that Peshawar does not have its representatives doing well statistically speaking. Captain Wahab Riaz is second on the wickets list behind Dahani and Shoaib Malik is sixth on the corresponding runs list. But Multan have the edge.
Multan also have the edge in recent meetings, having won three of their last five fixtures against Peshawar. Even their overall record against Peshawar favours Multan, who have five victories to three losses for win percentage of 62.5 – their highest against any PSL opposition.