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LAHORE: After an enthralling 15-match Karachi-leg, the HBL Pakistan Super League-7 moves to Lahore and the last 19 matches of the season will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium after a two-year gap.

All six teams remain in contention of securing the top-four play-off slots. The 2020 champions Karachi Kings who lost all their five matches at their home ground (National Stadium, Karachi) are still in the hunt and can still claw their way back into the competition if they undergo a change of fortunes in Lahore.

At the end of the Karachi-leg, Multan Sultans, the defending champions led by Mohammad Rizwan, are sitting pretty at the top of the points table with 10 points courtesy of their unbeaten run in Karachi (five matches, five wins).

The 2016 and 2018 champions Islamabad United led by their in-form captain Shadab Khan occupy the second spot with six points (five matches, three wins, two defeats). Lahore Qalandars, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi also have the same points tally (five matches, three wins, two defeats) but their inferior run-rate compared to United has put them in the third spot.

The 2019 champions Quetta Gladiators, led by Sarfaraz Ahmed are number four (five matches, two wins, three defeats) with four points. Wahab Riaz-led Peshawar Zalmi who won the title in 2017 occupy the fifth spot (five matches, two wins, three defeats) with as many points as the Gladiators but an inferior net run-rate.

The Babar Azam-led 2020 champions Karachi Kings have had to endure a barren run in Karachi (five matches, five defeats) and are yet to register a point. They are languishing at the bottom of the points table – sixth spot.

Islamabad United skipper Shadab Khan said, “The Lahore-leg promises to be even more exciting with maximum attendance expected at the Gaddafi Stadium for the business end of the tournament and I am sure that the fans in Lahore will be as entertained as the Karachi fans were with some world-class performers from all six sides on show.”

Karachi Kings Captain Babar Azam said, “It has been a really tough start for us and we are left with no option but to win all our remaining five matches. I am confident that the whole team will be upbeat and ready to make a turnaround when we take on Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday in our opening match of the Lahore-leg.”

Lahore Qalandars Captain Shaheen Shah Afridi said, ““We have a quality bowling attack and I am confident that our bowling will win us matches in Lahore. The second-half of the tournament is at our home turf and I am sure we will receive impassioned support, backing and following at the Gaddafi Stadium, especially with a 100 per cent crowd towards the backend of the tournament. I would urge the Lahore fans to get ready for some world class entertainment and make their way to the GSL for the support of not only the Qalandars but the HBL PSL.”

Multan Sultans skipper Mohammad Rizwan said, “I have simply asked my players to keep doing what they did in Karachi and avoid any complacent thoughts as we know that all our opponents have enough firepower in their ranks to catch us off guard any day of the tournament. We are very excited to play the Multan Sultans’ brand of cricket in Lahore and entertain the fans there who would be seeing HBL PSL action at their own venue for the first time in nearly two years.”

Peshawar Zalmi Captain Wahab Riaz said: “Our first aim in Lahore would be to register victories and ensure qualification in the play-offs. As we proved last year, once we are in the play-offs we become as dangerous and capable a side as any. Zalmi has a history of appearing in the HBL PSL finals regularly and this year we are as determined as ever to find a place in the final and repeat our 2017 success which we achieved at the Gaddafi Stadium.”

Quetta Gladiators skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed said, “The Gladiators are known for fighting hard and despite some poor performances in the previous edition and the Karachi-leg, I firmly believe that we have the team strength and some incredibly skilled and experienced cricketers who can take us to the play-offs and beyond this season.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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