'Lahore Qalandars are hard to beat but not impossible' - Imad Wasim
Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim is confident about his team's chances of prevailing over the buoyant Lahore Qalandars in the PSL 2020 final.
The perennial underachievers Qalandars have had a remarkable turnaround this season, managing to make it to their maiden PSL final.
They had begun their PSL 2020 campaign with just one win in five games and looked to be on the brink of elimination before rising up to the challenge and recovering form.
Qalandars also seem to be the most balanced side on paper with two convincing victories in the Eliminators following the resumption of the league since the playoffs were delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Although Karachi Kings enter the final with a more consistent track record in the competition, Imad was wary of underestimating the opposition's strength.
"We cannot predict the future but certainly, the way Lahore Qalandars have been performing in the last two games, their confidence and morale will be high," he told reporters ahead of the final.
"Every player they have is in form, but in the final, the stage is completely different since it is a battle of nerves. Any player who can bat for long, can change the complexion of the game," he added.
The last meeting between the two sides saw Babar Azam and Sharjeel stitch an unbeaten 151-run stand to pummel Qalandars by a domineering margin of 10 wickets. But Imad factored in their recent form and suggested the forthcoming contest would be a scintillating tussle.
"Lahore Qalandars are playing really good cricket. They are hard to beat but it is not impossible and no team is unbeatable. There are several match-winners in our side. Both teams are well-deserved finalists and I wish the opposition best of luck for the encounter."
With Pakistan's two largest cities battling it out for the coveted top prize, Imad acknowledged the occasion was grand and lamented the absence of fans for the match in the current scenario.
"I am really excited for the Lahore-Karachi final, which will be a huge game for both teams. We will try to play our best cricket that we have been doing throughout the tournament."
"The crowd of Karachi was our 12th man but the way they are supporting us outside of the stadium, it is amazing. And we will obviously miss them," he claimed.
'We intend to stick to our winning combination'
Karachi's last outing was patchy as they barely defeated Multan Sultans in a Super Over thriller on Saturday. After cruising to the modest 142-run target for a majority of their chase, Karachi were tormented by a stunning collapse.
They finally managed to level the scores courtesy a last-ball boundary from Imad and Mohammad Amir later secured a four-run win in the six-ball shootout via a splendid execution of yorkers.
"We should have easily finished the match but it is a part of game," Imad noted. "The good thing is we have sat down and analysed our mistakes to rectify them. On the other hand, if everything had been going smoothly, we would not have gotten the time to identify our shortcomings."
"We played well in the high stakes Super Over and the way Mohammad Amir darted in yorkers successfully, I don't think anyone else is capable in the world to do that with precision. He had been working hard in the past couple of months," the ace all-rounder remarked.
"I have played in various tournament finals for other teams and the main thing I've learned is the player who holds his nerve and sticks to his basics well, eventually prevails."
Responding to a query about the team combination, Imad emphasised he was not in favour of tinkering with the set playing XI. He felt Mohammad Rizwan, who has recently been elevated to Test vice-captain, would once again be overlooked for West Indies star Chadwick Walton for the wicketkeeper's slot in the team.
"Without a doubt, Rizwan is one of the best players in Pakistan. However, we intend to stick to our winning combination and we hope to go with the hard-hitting Chadwick Walton as our wicketkeeper in the final. It's unfortunate that Rizwan is unable to get a chance but it is a part of life, that happens. In case of any unforeseen injury, we will stick with Walton in the team."