PSL 2019: Quetta Gladiators' Shane Watson amazed by Pakistan's fast-bowling depth

Waseem Ahmed 13/03/2019
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Shane Watson. Image: PSL/Twitter.

Quetta Gladiators’ opener Shane Watson has hailed the fast-bowling depth in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and believes it is one of the best in the world.

The ongoing edition of the PSL has seen several young Pakistan pacers including Mohammad Hasnain, Muhammad Musa and Haris Rauf create an impression with their raw pace and accuracy.

Watson, who is currently leading the run-scoring charts in the 2019 PSL, has admitted his amazement at the steady rate at which young fast bowlers are emerging through the tournament.

“That is one thing that always comes up while playing in the PSL, even from my first year and it continued to be now. There’s always one or two fast bowlers who are bowling way above 140kph, pushing 150kph,” Watson told ESPNcricinfo in an interview.

“So every single game I go out and play, I know I have to be absolutely on my game, ready to go, otherwise I can get exposed and hurt facing these quick bowlers. It’s an incredible thing, the depth that Pakistan cricket has over any other country that I have ever played in – real and proper fast bowling. It’s amazing how they continue to come through.

“Now we’ve got (Mohammad) Hasnain here at Quetta who has come onto the scene and is bowling 150kmh, as it continues to happen every single PSL. So it’s pretty amazing.”

18-year-old Hasnain has picked up seven wickets so far for Quetta in five games in what is his maiden PSL campaign. The young pacer’s display has seen him earn a maiden call up to the Pakistan squad for the upcoming ODI series against Australia in the UAE.

Watson and Quetta, meanwhile, will be in action on Wednesday when they take on Peshawar Zalmi at Karachi in the Qualifier. The winner of the clash will progress to the final of the competition which will be held on March 17 at Karachi.

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PSL 2019: Alex Hales and Chris Jordan to join Islamabad and Peshawar for playoffs

Waseem Ahmed 12/03/2019
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Chris Jordan and Alex Hales will feature in PSL in Karachi.

England T20 star players Alex Hales and Chris Jordan are set to bolster the playoff stage of PSL 2019.

Hales will turn up for Islamabad United in their Eliminator clash with Karachi Kings in Karachi on Thursday as his international assignment in the Caribbean with England is over.

Hales was par of the limited overs tour of West Indies and had a top score of 82 in the Guyana ODI. Hales’ decision to travel to Karachi is significant as he had earlier refused to tour Bangladesh over security concerns in 2016.

However, Hales has had a change of heart, first signing up for Rangpur Riders in the Bangladesh Premier League and now travelling to Pakistan to take part in the PSL.

Jordan, meanwhile, brings great form to the Zalmi side, having registered remarkable figures of 4-6 in the second T20 against the West Indies in Basseterre, dismissing the hosts for just 45. Jordan was part of the Zalmi side during the PSL in UAE before joining the England team in the Caribbean late last month.

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PSL 2019: Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators will battle it out for place in final

Waseem Ahmed 12/03/2019
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Hasan Ali v Ahmed Shehzad. Image - @thePSLt20/Twitter.

A spot in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final will be up for grabs when Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators meet in the Qualifier at Karachi on Wednesday.

Peshawar and Quetta were the two standout teams in the league stage of the PSL with both sides finishing with seven wins each from their 10 matches.

Darren Sammy’s Peshawar are bidding to enter the final for the third time in a row after lifting the trophy in 2017 before finishing as the runners-up in the 2018 edition.

Entering the Qualifier after topping the league standings, Peshawar have been growing in dominance with each game. A world-class bowling unit has been their primary calling card in the tournament so far with Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali leading the charge.

Hasan Ali has been exceptional with the pacer leading the wicket-taking charts with 21 scalps in his 10 matches at an economy-rate of only 6.36. The 24-year-old has been ably supported by Wahab Riaz who has chipped in with 13 wickets.

In the batting order, openers Kamran Akmal and Imam-ul-Haq have been key with their consistency at the top. Add in their numerous power-hitters like Kieron Pollard, Liam Dawson and Darren Sammy and it is not hard to see why Peshawar have stumbled upon a winning formula.

Quetta, on the other hand, have been equally impressive in the league stage but Sarfraz Ahmed and his men come into the Qualifier on the back of a dramatic one-run loss to Karachi Kings.

The Gladiators required just five runs for victory in the final over against Karachi but collapsed sensationally against Usman Shinwari. It was the first time that Quetta have tasted defeat in the PSL while chasing.

In their seven wins so far, six have come while chasing a target successfully and the team will back themselves to do it again despite the blip against Karachi.

Former Pakistan pacer Sohail Tanvir and spinner Mohammad Nawaz have been key to the side in the bowling department and have picked up 15 and 11 wickets respectively in the tournament so far.

Young pacer Mohammad Hasnain has impressed with his raw speed in his maiden PSL campaign with his seven dismissals earning him a call up for the Pakistan ODI squad.

With the bat, Australia veteran Shane Watson has been the star, leading the run-scoring charts with 352 of them in 10 matches. While Watson was instrumental to Quetta’s excellent start, it has been Ahmed Shehzad who has been the main man in recent matches.

The top-order batsman had registered half-centuries in each of his last three innings and was unlucky to be dismissed on 99 in the one-run loss to Karachi.

Quetta also have Umar Akmal who has forced his way back into the Pakistan ODI squad after a tidy campaign and as such, are looking very formidable in the batting department. Like Peshawar, Quetta too are bidding to reach the PSL final for the third time in their history after finishing as the runners-up in the 2016 and 2017 editions.

The winner of the Qualifier advances straight to the final to be held on March 17 at Karachi. The loser of the tie will get a second bite at the cherry when they take on the winner of the first Eliminator at Karachi on March 15.

TEAM NEWS

Peshawar Zalmi have been handed a boost ahead of their qualifier with England all-rounder Chris Jordan rejoining the squad after completing his international duties in the West Indies.

LIKELY XIs

Peshawar Zalmi: Kamran Akmal (wk), Imam-ul-Haq, Liam Dawson, Kieron Pollard, Sohaib Maqsood, Darren Sammy (c), Chris Jordan, Umar Amin, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Sameen Gul.

Quetta Gladiators: Shane Watson, Ahmed Shehzad, Rilee Rossouw, Umar Akmal, Dwayne Bravo, Anwar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Hasnain, Fawad Ahmed.

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