Babar Azam. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The Peshawar Zalmi have played the PSL final three times, winning the championship in 2017. Last time around, they lost to the Quetta Gladiators. Darren Sammy and Co would be opening their campaign against the Karachi Kings on February 21 at the National Stadium in Karachi. Last year, the Zalmi looked dominating after finishing the league stage on top of the table with seven victories.

The Kings, on the other hand, have played the playoffs every other time, but haven’t been able to win the title. In 2019, they huffed and puffed to the last four, but got knocked by Islamabad United in the Eliminator. Numbers don’t speak for them ahead of their first encounter. On head-to-head, the Zalmi have beaten the Kings in eight out of 10 matches, including a four-game winning streak.

Pitch and Conditions

The pitch in Karachi has been fairly good for batting. The average PSL score at the National Stadium is in the high 160s. Hence, a fairly high-scoring game can be expected. Since the game will be played under natural light, the spinners could end up getting a bit of assistance. The conditions will be hazy with the temperature around 29 degrees Celsius. The humidity will mostly be in the mid-10s.

Team Combination

Karachi Kings

Sharjeel Khan has returned to the PSL after three years, but may not get a chance right away. Awais Zia, the leading run-scorer in the National T20 Cup with 276 runs, is likely to get a go. Alex Hales and Babar Azam provides solidity to the batting. Both Delport and Walton were in good form in the BPL.

But it will be tough to play them together. The Kings’ batting has depth with the likes of Chris Jordan in their ranks. Jordan will also be needed with the ball and will partner with Mohammad Amir and USA pacer Ali Khan. Umer Khan and skipper Imad Wasim are the specialist spin bowling options.

Probable XI

Awais Zia, Alex Hales, Babar Azam, Cameron Delport/Chadwick Walton, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Imad Wasim (C), Chris Jordan, Mohammad Amir, Umer Khan, Ali Khan

Peshawar Zalmi

The Zalmi have a power-packed top order. Kamran Akmal and Livingstone can tear any bowling attack apart on their day. Kamran is also the all-time leading run-scorer in PSL with 1286 runs. Banton will be making his maiden appearance in the event and he will be the one to watch out for.

Umar Amin and Shoaib Malik have reliable heads and can be trusted in crunch situations. Carlos Brathwaite is a handy all-round option for whichever team he represents. Sammy has always been an inspirational leader for them. In the pace department, Hasan, Rahat and Wahab will hold the key.

Probable XI

Kamran Akmal (wk), Tom Banton, Liam Livingstone, Umar Amin, Shoaib Malik, Carlos Brathwaite, Adil Amin/Amir Khan, Darren Sammy (C), Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz

Probable Top Performers

Babar Azam – Karachi Kings | Kamran Akmal – Peshawar Zalmi

Broadcast Details

TV: D Sport

Live Streaming – Cricket GateWay

Match Timings – 15:30 IST; 15:00 local; 10:00 GMT

The prediction is for Peshawar Zalmi to win the match.