Who will claim their maiden title? © Getty Images
Who will claim their maiden title? © Getty Images

After much discussions and contemplations, Pakistan are set to mark a historic day on their calendar as Peshawar Zalmi will take on Quetta Gladiators for the final of PSL 2017 at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Sunday. For the local cricketers, it will be a dream come true moment to play in front of their fans. Few days back, Lahore was gripped by terror attacks leading to which Gladiators foreign players had backed out from the finale. Meanwhile, Zalmi’s international players along with captain Darren Sammy will travel to Pakistan to play the final. PCB also faced criticisms from former Pakistan cricketers like Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Aamir Sohail of hosting the final PSL final at Lahore. Lahore turns into fortress ahead of PSL 2017 final

However, Zalmi found their way in the second attempt defeating Karachi Kings in the third qualifiers. But Shahid Afridi’s dream to play his farewell match in his home soil might not happen as he is ruled out due to finger injury. On this note, let us look at some of the key clashes one can witness on Sunday at Lahore:

Kamran Akmal vs Ahmed Shahzad: Shahzad has always set the tone for any Gladiators match. He has been consistent not only as an opener but has built up the Quetta innings in every game. It was Shahzad’s knock of 71 that not only handed him Man of the Match award, but also helped Gladiators to ease through the final.

In a similar fashion, Kamran’s performances have been underrated throughout the edition. He bounced back in a crucial match and Kamran not only became the first cricketer to get a century in this edition of the tournament but also his match-winning innings brought Zalmi to lock horns with their old opponents in the summit clash. Who manages to tilt the game towards their side will be an interesting sight to watch out for.

Darren Sammy vs Sarfraz Ahmed: Both the captains play in the middle-order, are powerful hitters but are yet to prove a point in the PSL in terms of bat for one and as an all-rounder for the other. Sammy has managed to pick just two wickets although he has shown glimpses of quick fire innings with the bat in the middle.

As for Sarfraz, he has got an unbeaten half-century to his name, but the graph has seen slumping towards the business end of the tournament. As a captain, both the players have used variations in bowling to add pressure on the opponents. But can Sarfraz and Sammy manage to lead from the front and provide a perfect finish to the finale? PSL 2017: Shahid Afridi ruled out of final at Lahore

Dwaid Malan vs Asad Shafiq: Shafiq has already proven his credibility in the top order. Malan is next in line and has shown what he can do in the top order. Zalmi have played around with their opening pair by bringing either Malan or Tamim, who is now serving his duties for the national side against Sri Lanka.

Shafiq has played 5 matches in this tournament and has not got much runs with his willow. Meanwhile, Malan has already scored a fifty against Gladiators that went in vain. With Shafiq eyeing a spot in the T20 side of the national team, there cannot be a better opportunity than finale that too on his home soil.

Wahab Riaz vs Mohammad Nawaz: An enticing clash is set to reward our eyes as it will be two Pakistani cricketers pitted against each other. While Nawaz holds 9 wickets so far, Riaz has taken 10 wickets in the tournament. Nawaz was one of the poster boys in the first season who ultimately found his way in the Pakistan camp. He was the third highest wicket-taker (13) last year.

It was also Nawaz’s 3 wickets in the last three balls that pulled off a victory against Zalmi, taking Gladiators to the final spot of this edition. On the other hand, Riaz made his T20 debut at Lahore playing for Hyderabad Hawks in 2005, bearing no result with the ball. An exciting clash awaits as either Nawaz might outshine his senior in the domestic league or Riaz may bring his experience into play.