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HBL Pakistan Super League: Gladiators start with clash against Zalmi, Kings face Sultans test

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LAHORE: Peshawar Zalmi take on Quetta Gladiators, led by newly-appointed captain Rilee Rossouw, in the ninth HBL Pakistan Super League here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday.

The day match will see for the first time a new captain for Gladiators, South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw, after the mantle was taken back from long-time skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed who led the franchise team in all the eight editions of PSL held so far.

The 34-year-old Rossouw is ready for the tough job and has high hopes from his team.“The opportunity to lead a side in the PSL doesn’t come around often and it’s such an honour for me. My expectation this season is obviously to win the league,” the left-handed batter said.

“As a team, we will try to make a high performance arena. I think conditions in Karachi and Lahore will suit the Gladiators and that is where we will look to bag the most points.”

So far, Gladiators have clinched PSL title once, in 2019, besides ending as runners-up in the 2016 and 2017 editions.

On the other hand, Zalmi, led by former Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, seized the title in 2017 while lost the finals in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Classical batter Babar reckons his outfit contains the talent to win the coveted title.

“Peshawar Zalmi have been one of the most exciting sides in the PSL history and with our current squad we are well poised to emerge as champions in this season,” Babar said on the eve of the ninth edition.

“Some of our players are highly talented and gifted in our bowling and batting departments which gives Zalmi an edge over other teams.”

Players of both Gladiators and Zalmi held training sessions at the LCCA ground on Saturday afternoon.

Later on Saturday, Multan Sultans face Karachi Kings under lights in Multan.

The Mohammad Rizwan-led Sultans, which joined the PSL in 2018, have remained significantly consistent in the league bagging the crown in 2021 while remaining runners-up in the back to-back events of 2022 and 2023.

Wicket-keeper/batter Rizwan said his players would look to maintain the high standards they had set in the last couple of years.

“PSL is a world-class league and we are all proud to be a part of it,” Rizwan, the vice-captain of Pakistan’s T20 team, said.

“Multan’s pacers and emerging players have dominated the previous two seasons and that is one of the reasons of Sultans doing well consistently .This season we have got a strong squad as well and will look to maintain the standards.

“Multan crowds have given us a lot of love over the last two seasons and hopefully, they will again support us with the same enthusiasm this year,” he further said.

Kings, who featured in all the eight previous PSL seasons, managed to seize the title in 2020.

Shan Masood, the team’s skipper, hoped the team would do a fine job in PSL 9 whose latter part would be staged at the National Bank Stadium in Karachi, the Kings’ home ground.

“To represent and lead my hometown team Kara­chi in the HBL PSL is such a huge honour,” the left-handed opener Shan said.

“It is a rebuilding process for Karachi Kings, where we are looking to build a core group of young players who can serve the franchise for the next five years.

“We have a great chance to do well given the last part of the tournament is set to take place in Karachi,” Shan, who was named Pakistan’s Test captain prior to the recent tour to Australia, stated.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2024


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