A fascinating finale to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 awaits with arch-rivals - Lahore Qalandars and Karachi Kings - gearing up to cross swords and grapple for a maiden piece of silverware. PSL, a tournament that has elevated in prestige over the past half decade, is set to close off this year's edition with a blockbuster Karachi-Lahore final that few cricketing minds could have foreseen.
It required a gargantuan effort on behalf of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the PSL management to stage the whole of PSL V in Pakistan. PSL 2020 was rollicking along at a terrific pace, earlier in the year, before it came to a screeching standstill courtesy the coronavirus-enforced break.
The organizers were, however, adamant on staging the remaining matches in a suitable window and they managed to find and finalize one in mid-November. Since 14 November, hence, PSL has barged back onto the scene in an enthralling manner and after three intensely-contested duels, the teams from Lahore and Karachi will look to pick up a victory in the biggest match of the season.
The Lahore Qalandars have a massive opportunity ahead of them - a win over their arch-rivals not only seals the PSL trophy for them but would also assist in healing the wounds from the previous four editions where they finished rock-bottom on every occasion.
Their meteoric rise through the entirety of PSL 2020 is nothing short of a fairytale, and they have the form and the players they need to sign off in grand fashion.
Generally, Karachi Kings have had the wood over the Men in Green. The two teams last met in Karachi's National Stadium earlier this year when the home side trampled all over the Qalandars and humbled them by 10 wickets. However, PSL 2020's group stage also saw that Ben Dunk innings where he wreaked havoc on the Karachi Kings courtesy of a whirlwind 99* that spurred life into Lahore Qalandars' campaign.
They have the likes of Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf in the wings - one of whom is leading the PSL 2020 bowling charts while the other is the highest wicket-taker across all forms of T20 Cricket this year.
David Wiese has been at the core of Lahore Qalandars' victories this season and his all-round prowess is extremely imperative to their success. Mohammad Hafeez played a sensational innings against Peshawar Zalmi while the left-handed opening duo of Tamim Iqbal and Fakhar Zaman have got handy runs under their belts and can tee off in the final, much to the Kings' fears.
All in all, Lahore Qalandars have stringed together a stable combination and can overpower Karachi Kings on the back of the momentum that they have built up. They are highly likely to retain the same XI for the final.
Karachi Kings, on the contrary, squeezed past the group-stage table-toppers, Multan Sultans, to seal a berth in the PSL 2020 final. They cruised through the run-chase for a large part of their innings before slumping to desperation and eventually holding on to dear life and making it through.
Unlike the Qalandars, the home side has played one fewer game since the resumption and would need to bring out their A-game against a red-hot rival.
The momentous game against Lahore Qalandars presents them with the opportunity to grasp the silverware and dedicate it to their late head coach, Dean Jones. Emotions are clearly running high in the Kings' camp following Dean Jones' passing only two months ago. The players and management alike are determined to win the PSL 2020 for him.
In Alex Hales and Babar Azam, Karachi have two exceptional cricketers at the top of the order. Babar is not only the leading run-scorer in PSL 2020 but also the most prolific batsman in T20s this year with a total of 1179 runs.
Mohammad Amir made headlines in the Qualifier after he kept Multan Sultans at bay in the Super Over. Sharjeel Khan is also in the mix, and can provide fireworks at the start of the innings.
Karachi's bowling attack performed brilliantly against the Sultans but it would be an altogether different challenge against an in-form Lahore Qalandars' line-up. The final could well be a toss-up between momentum and home advantage.
PSL 2020 Final predicted Playing XIs
Lahore Qalandars Predicted XI: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal, Sohail Akhtar (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Ben Dunk (WK), David Weise, Samit Patel, Muhammad Faizan, Dilbar Hussain, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi
Karachi Kings Predicted XI: Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Alex Hales, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim (C), Chadwick Walton (WK), Sherfane Rutherford, Wayne Parnell, Mohammad Amir, Waqas Maqsood, Arshad Iqbal
PSL 2020 Final: Pitch and Weather Report
The weather is expected to remain dry and mild during the match with the temperature expected to be around 28 degrees Celsius. We saw dew playing a key role in all the games since the resumptions with the spinners finding it hard to grip the ball, while the pacers benefited from the extra zip that it provided off the deck. However, the dew factor is not expected to vary a whole lot from the previous games, which could convince the skippers to bat first should they win the toss.
PSL 2020 Final: Where to watch in India
Final time: Match begins at 8.30 PM IST.
TV channel: EurosportPublished 17 Nov 2020, 01:17 IST