KARACHI  - Stage is all set for highly entertaining and electrifying Pakistan Super League-4 final between the two evenly matched sides one-time champions Peshawar Zalmi and two time runners up Quetta Gladiators today (Sunday).

Things are completely different this time around as Gladiators were highly unlucky in the last three occasions as all the mega stars refused to travel to Pakistan due to security issues and Gladiators were left red-faced and with no option but to pick fresh faces who failed to deliver. But this time Gladiators are more than fully equipped as they had all the required stuff including a settled playing XI and a lethal weapon in the shape of Shane Watson, who is delivering wonders at the top and when it matters most. He also bowled some highly classic overs and the most memorable one was the one against Zalmi, where he restricted them to just 10 and also took the prize scalp of devastating hitter Kieron Pollard, who was at his super best.

Gladiators also enjoy the huge advantage of being the locals as from skipper Sarfraz Ahmed to owner Nadeem Omar all belong to the city of lights and local crowd will be right behind the Gladiators.

Speaking at the press conference here at National Stadium Karachi on Saturday, Gladiators skipper Sarfraz said: “We will try to give 100 percent as we are at full strength and we have all the required weapons. Like PM Imran Khan had said that entire PSL-5 will be played in Pakistan it will help cricket improve in Pakistan. The way quality of pitches was witnessed here, we badly missed that in the UAE.”

He said as a captain he wanted to win but there would be extra crowd pressure on them as crowd has been expecting a lot from us.

He said they have very tough opponents in Zalmi, who have a very strong bowling attack and they wil have to play exceptional cricket to beat them.

When asked about Gladiators had a tag of chokkers, whether this time it will be different story, Sarfraz replied: “Who branded us chokers? I had never heard that as Karachi crowd had supported all the teams and crowd will be same for both teams and will try to remove that chokers tag, which I heard today.”

When asked about the key players Watson and Umar Akmal importance for the Gladiators, who had twice beaten Zalmi’ in the PSL-4, Sarfraz said: “Both Watson and Umar have played superbly for us. Top 4 and 5 players hold key for winning and we depend on Watson, Ahmed Shahzad, Umar, Ahsan Ali and Rilee Rossouw as they can provide us the platform, which will help our bowlers to restrict the opponents.”

When asked about it would be brother against brother as Kamran is against Umar and Sammy had termed Watson a dangerous customer, Sarfraz replied: “In cricket it happens. One had to play against each other and both will play for their respective teams’ pride. As far as Watson is concerned, he is one-man army. He single-handedly wins matches for any team he represents.”

When asked about why both he and Sammy looked hesitant to hold the PSL trophy, Sarfraz replied Sammy had told him he won’t touch the trophy.

When asked about toss loss and batting second batting is a problem and what about Fawad Ahmed update, Sarfraz replied: “I had met with Fawad yesterday and he is making good progress. He had still swelling at his lips and might not train and if he is not fit he won’t play the final. In big matches, teams want to bat first and put opponents under pressure but here pitch is good enough, if we restrict them to 180 or 190, we had golden chances of chasing down the target.” When asked about difference in both teams, Sarfraz said: “We have good quality bowlers, Hassnain, Sohail Tanvir are providing wickets upfront while Nawaz and Fawad are giving us wickets in the middle. Both teams have their strengths.

Sarfraz joked that for last two days he was am looking for tickets but no one is ready to provide and the PCB officials were not picking his phone. “We are under pressure and I request people to have mercy and don’t demand passes.”

When asked about his performance in PSL whether he is satisfied and how much he will miss Pakistan team’s tour of UAE for Australian One Day series, Sarfraz replied: “I am very much satisfied with my performances in PSL and it is a short tour of Dubai so I don’t think I will miss much. It will be good time for youngsters to have learning experience.”

While addressing the press conference Zalmi skipper Sammy said he had planned downfall of Gladiators but conceded that team batting first have advantage as in a do or die game more runs on board add pressure on opponents. On Gladiators favourites tag, Sammy said: “I like to be underdogs. Zalmi as everyone can see have so many leaders. I like to involve all. Misbah, Wahab, Jordan all talking to players and I back them. It will be easier to lead the side and winning the final will be icing on the cake.”

When asked about Shane Watson is batting superbly what would be his plans to handle him, Sammy replied: “Watson is a pain for us as he is pretty experienced and enjoying his form. If we choose to beat them one time, then why not final and it will be cracker of game but Watson remained the pain hurdle.”

When asked about PSL had produced only young bowlers, not batsmen, Sammy said: “I think it is unfair to say the PSL has not produced young batsmen. I think PSL is the best I have seen and played. When you have a premier league, local talent unearths. We had seen Fakhar, Shaheen Shah, Fakhar, Moosa. It’s been difficult for batsmen to score runs. Pakistan cricket is in good hands.”

When asked about last year, United spinners took 5 wickets last time around whether you had worked on that, Sammy replied: “Guys are in the dressing room, who are working on different aspects. We have to take whatever comes in our way. We have players who have won many finals they have habit of winning finals.”

While PCB media department continued with its self-styled policies as blue-eyed were fully entertained and genuine sports journalists were not even given a single pass. Raza and Shakeel Khan didn’t even bother to even attend the calls and neither bothered to call back. It is high time, PM Imran Khan must take notice and seek details of how many free passes were allocated to the PCB and where those passes were distributed and why few certain individuals were enjoying all the benefits. The PCB media department must be questioned for obliging few certain individuals only. It is hoped Ehsan Mani will finally woke up and check what is going on right under his nose. Besides President, Information Minister, Railways Minister, IPC Minister along with dignitaries, ambassadors, Army chief and even PM is expected to witness the grand final today.