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Can Gladiators do it this time?

Last year’s runner-up Quetta Gladiators again qualified for the final and are confident of winning this year

Can Gladiators do it this time?

After days of uncertainty and controversy, the final of the Pakistan Super League will take place at the iconic Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Sunday (today).

Many international players have decided not to participate in Lahore final due to security reasons. Prominent international commentators are also not traveling to Pakistan.

Despite all ifs and buts local fans are excited and keen to watch the final in the stadium. That’s why the tickets sold out in hours despite the high prices.

Last year’s runner-up Quetta Gladiators again qualified for the final and are confident of winning this year.

Gladiators did not have stars except Kevin Pietersen. They are a bunch of experienced and young talented players who work hard and fight till the last. They proved it in the first qualifying match against Peshawar Zalmi. In the last over Peshawar needed only seven runs and had many wickets in hand, but spinner Mohammad Nawaz held his nerves and prevented Zalmi batsmen from taking two runs off the last three balls. Gladiators got three wickets off the last three deliveries, two of them brilliant run-outs by skipper Sarfraz.

Nawaz could be a regular member of Pakistan cricket team as an all-rounder.

Sir Vivian Richards’ presence in the dressing room must have boosted the morale of the team. The West Indian great was seen fully involved in his team’s activities. He attended every training session, meeting and every team-bonding event.

About the involvement of former West Indian captain, commentator Ramiz Raja once said that before the crucial match against Australia in the 1992 World Cup, then captain Imran Khan invited Viv Richards for a brief speech that motivated Pakistan team and the team not only beat Australia but went on to win the World Cup.

Richards says that Sarfraz’s leadership qualities have been vital. “I like Sarfraz as a captain. He is very innovative and energetic and brings fresh energy to the team. I believe that will be vital for us. Just look how successful he has been for the Pakistan team. We will play even better this time,” the mentor said during an interview.

“In Quetta Gladiators we are all like a family, we were very close to winning the championship last year, but lost due to missing some opportunities, now the team has worked on last year’s weaknesses and looking to take the title this year,” he said.

Quetta could be the favourites to lift the title this year, but hours after Quetta Gladiators secured a berth in the Pakistan Super League final, foreign players Kevin Pietersen, Tymal Mills and Luke Wright confirmed they would not partake in the final, avoiding visiting Lahore due to security concerns. This must have hurt Quetta’s preparation for the final.

Pietersen played an important role in Quetta’s success. He scored 40 off 22 balls against Peshawar to take his season tally to 241 runs.

The partnerships between Ahmed Shahzad and Kevin Pietersen were often the foundations of Quetta’s success.

Tymal Mills tweeted with regret that he would be watching the match from home.

A T20 specialist bowler, he took seven wickets in five matches. He was the second most expensive player at the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, being picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for 120 million Indian rupees.

Sarfraz is a sensible captain and true fighter who never gives up. He is like oxygen for his team. He has played a major role in Quetta Gladiators’ success. Much depends on how he handles the situation and fills the vacuum left by the foreign players.

Khurram Mahmood

Sports Khurram Mahmood

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