Match facts

Nov 13, 2008
Start time 7.30pm (1400 GMT)


31, 62 ... will be be 124 for Inzamam on Thursday? © ICL
 

The Big Picture

There's a sense of déjà vu. A best-of-three finals; Lahore Badshahs and Hyderabad Heroes making it past a tough league phase; the only thing seemingly different is that Ahmedabad will host the final instead of Hyderabad.

Both teams come in to the clash geared up, with back-to-back wins against two of the frontrunners in the league stage - Lahore beat the Chennai Superstars and Hyderabad saw off the Royal Bengal Tigers - keeping them on their toes. It is perhaps fitting that the only game they played against each other this season, the tournament opener, didn't go the full distance. (Lahore, chasing 166, were 30 for 2 when the lights went out.)

It might be a repeat of the last tournament, but Lahore will be seeking to change one thing: the final outcome. It is just about doubling the prize money; last season, Lahore were highly tipped for the winners' cheque, but were humbled 2-0 by Hyderabad, losing a bowl-out 3-0 in the second final.

Hyderabad's all-round balance gives them an advantage in this format, but Lahore's big-name players - Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Saqlain Mushtaq - have been pulling their weight in recent games. Add to that the Ahmedabad factor. Hyderabad had the home advantage in their triumph, and Lahore have looked at home in Ahmedabad. They have delivered five wins in five games at the Sardar Patel Stadium, and the vociferous crowd support could be the X-factor in overcoming their strong opponents.

Form guide (last five matches, most recent first)

Hyderabad- WWWLW
Lahore - WWWWL

Stats

  • Imran Nazir has 18 sixes, the joint-highest along with Alok Kapali. How much will he dent the opposition's confidence on Thursday?

  • Nicky Boje's economy-rate of 5.75 is the best in the tournament. Doing the same against a formidable Lahore line-up, though, will be a very tough ask.

  • Rana Naved-ul-Hasan has been able to swing games with vital wickets towards the end, and with 17 scalps, is the leading strike-force in the tournament. He took 5 for 22 and forced the bowl-out in that gripping finale last season. Can he repeat those heroics again?

  • 135 was the average total in the two finals in the last tournament. It is unlikely that will be the par score in Ahmedabad.

Players to watch

He's found the teesra, and troubled the opposition with his repertoire of skills, but it is in the final that Lahore need Saqlain to deliver. There are some big-hitters in Hyderabad's line-up, and small variations could be the difference between a hit and a miss.

Abdul Razzaq, the Player of the Tournament when Hyderabad won, has had a quiet tournament with the bat. His 191 runs in nine games have come at a strike-rate of 112.35. He has been doing a good job with the ball, with eight wickets and an economy-rate of 6.55, to follow his 18 last season. Has he reserved that match-winning knock or spell, or both, for the big day?

Bengal would have fancied their chances of a place in the final till Stuart Binny took charge in the semi-final on Tuesday. By smacking 45 off 26 balls in a chase of 162, Binny revelled in the pressure. There will be no lack of pressure in the final.

While the bowlers have been gunning for Nazir, his opening partner Imran Farhat has put on useful scores in Lahore's victories over Chennai. A 38-ball 63 and a 24-ball 45 in the semi-final set the foundation for the likes of Yousuf and Inzamam to build on. If the two Imrans get going, it's unlikely Hyderabad will take the lead on Friday.

Quotes

"Tomorrow's match will be a crunch match as it is the first game and winning it will give an advantage to the team. But we don't have any specific strategy or plan for them. The game is the same, just name changes, so we would look to just stick to what we have done so far, just follow the basic plan."
Lahore captain Inzamam doesn't seem too daunted by the finals

"They are an international team and have one of the most destructive opening pairs. We know that they can really get them off to a flier but on doing that they also provide a lot of opportunities and we would like to grab those chances with both hands."
It all about grasping what you get, Chris Harris, Hyderabad's captain, reveals