Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim said Lahore Qalandars are "a tough team to beat but not impossible". Both teams are playing their maiden PSL final, with the Wasim wary of an opposition brimming with confidence after winning two eliminators.
Karachi made their way into the final after they managed to turn what should have been a straightforward chase against Multan Sultans into a nail-biter that required a Super Over to resolve. Lahore, on the other hand, stormed into the final with two powerful displays, comfortably beating Peshawar Zalmi and Multan Sultans. The finalists split the group stage games, and though Karachi do historically have a superior record over their fierce rivals, Wasim brushed that aside as a point that may make a difference.
"You cannot predict the future but the way they [Qalandars] rose to the challenge in the last two games, the confidence and morale is definitely is up," Wasim said. "Obviously, every player they have is in form, but in the final, everything changes and it's a stage where it's all about holding your nerve. Yes, we weren't able to express ourselves properly against Multan Sultans, but for the final, everyone will be up to the mark. On the day, one team has to lose, but you just have to make sure you perform to your fullest.
"In our team, we have several players who, if they stay for a while at the crease, can change the face of the game. Lahore has played very good cricket lately and are hard to beat, but not impossible to beat. Nobody is unbeatable, anyone can beat anyone on a given day. We made it into the final winning games and we worked hard for them. So has Lahore - the way they are clicking - so I think we are both deserving finalists."
Lahore and Karachi coming up against each other generates huge interest - and passions. It has, on occasion, spilled over into acrimony, with Wasim Akram once embroiled in a heated argument with someone on Lahore's ownership team after a loss in Dubai in 2019. Imad Wasim, the captain, and fast bowler Mohammad Amir were also part of the argument, which allegedly included inappropriate gestures. The PCB later had to chip in to arbitrate after Lahore formally lodged an official complaint against the trio. The issue was later resolved amicably behind closed doors, and Wasim insisted passions would remain under control.
"We all are friends and play side by side in international teams," Wasim said. "We want to fight like a team but it doesn't mean we sledge each other on the field. It's game of cricket and I have a clear message to every one of my players: to play with the spirit of the game. It's a game, and we are fighting with our opponents. Our motive is to play to our best while maintaining the values of sportsmanship."
Lahore captain Sohail Akhtar, a first-timer this season and the only one to lead a PSL side without international experience, said "It's a big achievement to reach the final. The belief that was there for five years has paid off. Our fans have stood by us for five years and now is the time to give them the best possible gift by winning the trophy.
"We will try to build on the momentum we have had and the key for success in the final will be to stick to the basics in both batting and bowling departments. Playing the final against Karachi in their own backyard is a massive occasion and I am sure it will have a huge following on TV and social media. We are really excited and looking forward to the game."