HBL PSL 5: Sarfaraz reveals Gladiators’ opening pair ahead of United clash

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The much-anticipated HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 will kick-off from tomorrow, Thursday, with the first ball of the tournament scheduled to be bowled at 9pm.

At the opening match of the tournament, Quetta Gladiators will begin their title defence by taking on two-time champions Islamabad United at Karachi’s National Stadium.

On Friday, Karachi Kings will host Peshawar Zalmi at the National Stadium, while, in Lahore, at the Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan’s home of cricket, Lahore Qalandars will take on Multan Sultans.

The cricket-crazy nation will be served with thrilling encounters all over the country as all six captains aim for berths in the 22 March final at the Gaddafi Stadium, for a shot at the US$500,000, the winning prize money, and the brand new glittering trophy.

To date, Quetta Gladiators, also the reigning champions, have been the most successful franchise with 61.90 win percentage.

Islamabad United, the champions of the inaugural and 2018 editions, have the third best win percentage with 57.95 and are the only team with two HBL PSL titles.

This fifth edition of the HBL PSL marks the biggest spectacle of cricket in the country since the 2008 Asia Cup as Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi will host the tournament, which goes down as the first instance of an entire edition of the HBL PSL being held in its own country.

With the long wait for this moment about to end, the fans are eager to welcome their own HBL PSL by filling the stadiums to their capacities and the same excitement is found amongst the captains, who are looking forward to lead their franchises on Pakistani soil.

Shadab Khan, the Islamabad United captain, believes that his side is adequately prepared ahead of their first match.

“Our preparations are excellent for this edition. We have had a camp in Islamabad with the Pakistan players and now we are gearing up for the tournament with all of our players in Karachi,” said Shadab. “We have a great balance in our side right from the beginning of the HBL PSL with top Pakistan players forming the core of the team, which gives us room to rely on both our batting and bowling departments to win us matches.”

The Pakistan leg-spinner was also keen making a good impact while captaining the side.

“I am extremely excited for this edition as I am about to captain a franchise which has won the HBL PSL title twice and that also in front of my own people. I have never played a HBL PSL match in my hometown, Rawalpindi, so it is going to be a great experience to play there,” he said.

Sarfaraz Ahmed, the captain of the defending champions Quetta Gladiators, was upbeat and revealed his team’s opening combination for the blockbuster opening clash against United.

“Jason Roy and Shane Watson will open for the team, while Ahmed Shahzad will go one down,” Sarfaraz said. “I have a lot of expectations from Naseem Shah and hopefully when he will be done with the rehab process, he would be completely available for the team.”

“The preparations have been going really well for us both in terms of training and the team-related activities. Every player is eager to contribute in the success of Quetta Gladiators. I’m really lucky that Quetta Gladiators squad is full of match winners both in batting and bowling departments and it is nice to have such a strong side,” he added.

The opening match of the tournament will be preceded by a richly entertaining opening ceremony, which will begin at 6.45pm.

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