Islamabad United are one of the finalists. Photo Courtesy: Saj Sadiq on Twitter
Islamabad United are one of the finalists. Photo Courtesy: Saj Sadiq on Twitter

After a 20-match long tournament, Islamabad United (IU) and Quetta Gladiators (QG) will meet in the final of the inaugural edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL). Ironically, neither Quetta nor Islamabad are particularly renowned for their local cricketers — which is not to say that there have been no good Test players from those provinces — while the teams from Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, cricketing hubs in Pakistan, did not make it to the final. Peshawar Zalmi had finished at the top of the points table in the group stage, but missed out on a berth in the final. Live Cricket Scorecard: Islamabad United vs Quetta Gladiators, PSL 2016 Final

On the other hand, Lahore Qalandars (LQ) and Karachi Kings (KK) were languishing at merely 2 wins from 8 matches each. This is especially surprising given that the likes of Zafar Gohar, Ehsan Adil, Kevon Cooper, and Ajantha Mendis of LQ and Ravi Bopara, Mohammad Aamer, Usamia Mir, Sohail Khan, and Imad Wasim of KK were all among the wickets. READ: PSL is a means to keep the game afloat in hearts of Pakistani supporters

Likewise, LQ’s Umar Akmal was the leading run-scorer of PSL 2016, while Cameron Delport, Azhar Ali, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, and Mohammad Rizwan chipped in with the bat. For KK Bopara was exceptional with the bat, falling just short of Akmal’s run tally, while Shoaib Malik and Lendl Simmons too did reasonably well. READ: Shaun Tait sings praises of PSL saying it can benefit Pakistan cricket

Focusing on the finalists, both IU and QK have some big names in their respective sides. Sharjeel Khan is riding high after a brilliant hundred — the first ever in PSL — and is currently third on the run-scorers list. Shane Watson, Khalid Latif, Brad Haddin, and Misbah-ul-Haq too have done well for IU. On the other hand, Ahmed Shehzad, Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright, and Sarfraz Ahmed have been instrumental in QG reaching the final. READ: Chamara Kapugedera: Playing cricket in Pakistan again a possibility

As for the bowling, Mohammad Nawaz has been a revelation for QG, while Grant Elliott emerged as a dark horse with the ball. Anwar Ali and Zulfiqar Babar too have been economical. For IU, Andre Russell and Mohammad Sami have been terrific, while Imran Khalid, Saeed Ajmal, and Rumman Raees have done well also. READ: Wahab Riaz-Ahmed Shehzad spat in PSL 2016: Bowler requests Pakistan youth not to take inspiration

The final is tough to call, but QG have all the momentum going into the final. It has been a fairytale journey for them, but they will be wary of a strong IU side that have some experienced names in the line-up. The final should be a riveting contest.

Squads:

Islamabad United: Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Sami, Andre Russell, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Amin, Shane Watson, Amad Butt, Babar Azam, Samuel Badree, Brad Haddin, Imran Khalid, Kamran Ghulam, Khalid Latif, Rumman Raees, Sam Billings.

Quetta Gladiators: Sarfraz Ahmed(c&wk), Elton Chigumbura, Mohammad Nabi, Umar Gul, Luke Wright, Zulfiqar Babar, Ahmed Shehzad, Anwar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Bilal Asif, Bismillah Khan, Akbar-ur-Rehman, Kevin Pietersen, Mohammad Nawaz (3), Saad Nasim.

Time: 16:00 GMT | 21:30 IST

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)