The final of the Pakistan Super League 2018 is finally here. We think that the two teams to have made it to the finals fully deserve their spot and promise to make the final a memorable one. Islamabad United started the tournament a little slow but then took off in the middle and became the first team to book their place in the knockout stages. Peshawar Zalmi suffered a few hiccups and was faced with a must-win situation for their last three encounters. Like last year, the defending champions managed to overcome all those challenges and are here again.
Which one of these two teams will be crowned champion of the PSL 2018?
The winners of the inaugural PSL back in 2016, Islamabad United had a rough start to this year’s campaign. The person to turn it around for them has been Luke Ronchi. Never recognized for being the most consistent batsman, Ronchi has set the tournament alive with his big-hitting exploits.
His 94 not out off 39 balls turned a relatively difficult chase into a cakewalk and propelled Islamabad United into the Final. Ronchi is going to be the most important player for Islamabad United in this game as well.
It is not just a one-man show for Islamabad, though. JP Duminy has embraced his role as a leader of this side and will be captain for this final. Misbah ul Haq is expected to miss the game because of injury. Duminy and Ronchi have been the backbone of this batting effort for Islamabad.
More than Ronchi, who can be explosive but difficult to predict, it is Duminy that we think will have an impact on this game. He is good against spin bowling and has plenty of experience of playing in conditions similar to what he will face.
Chadwick Walton should slot in for Alex Hales who refused to travel to Pakistan. The loss of Hales will be a big loss for Islamabad United since he is one batsman who can also win games on his own. Local players like Sahibzada Farhan, Hussain Talat, and Asif Ali have had success going into this match as well.
The Islamabad United bowlers will have a tough time keeping the Peshawar Zalmi batting quiet but that is exactly what they have to do. Faheem Ashraf is the leading wicket-taker of the tournament, Mohammad Sami has been a prolific wicket-taker as well, and Shadab Khan seems to be getting into some rhythm at this late stage in the tournament.
Islamabad is carrying some serious momentum into this tournament and will be tough to stop.
The defending champions of the PSL can expect to be the crowd favorites in this title clash as well. Darren Sammy has won the Pakistani crowds over while local boy Kamran Akmal is the most exciting batsman of this tournament.
Can Kamran Akmal continue to play with unbelievable freedom in the final? In a lot of ways, this final is going to be about his personal rivalry with Luke Ronchi as the best batsman of this year’s PSL. We think Akmal can be very difficult to stop if he gets going and so Islamabad must try and pick him off in the first few deliveries.
Andre Fletcher, Mohammad Hafeez, and the overseas all-rounders will be supporting Kamran Akmal as they attempt to win this match. Liam Dawson and Darren Sammy need to be careful that they do not leave themselves too late in this match because they have both shown the ability to score very quickly.
Mohammad Hafeez is the one batsman that we actually think can harm Peshawar by batting for too long.
Peshawar Zalmi seems to be a good chasing team and that is what they would like to do in this match.
Where Peshawar seems to have a real advantage over Islamabad is in their bowling attack. Chris Jordan, Hasan Ali, and Wahab Riaz are three supreme T20 bowlers. They can bowl with great control and pace at any stage of the game.
Liam Dawson, Darren Sammy, Umaid Asif, and Sameen Gul are also in the team to help complete the overs as per the need of the game.
Peshawar Zalmi will go into this game believing they can win. They have done exceedingly well in must-win matches so far and will be full of confidence.
Pitch and Conditions
Karachi has not hosted a match of this magnitude in a long time. The stadium is actually in the middle of renovations although we expect the work on the pitch to have been completed well in time. Batsmen from both sides can expect a flat batting deck for the final. Boundaries will be brought in to allow big hits from both sides and bowlers will struggle for any kind of assistance.
Two strong batting sides promise to play out a high scoring thriller.
Islamabad United has beaten Peshawar Zalmi in four out of the last five matches they have played. They will be the favorites for this match as well. We are, however, backing Peshawar Zalmi to repeat their success from last year and win this match.
Back Peshawar Zalmi to win.
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