A Pakistani soldier stands guard as Islamabad United crikceters take part in a training session at the National Cricket Stadium in Karachi Image Credit: AFP

Dubai. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) entered the last phase of the fourth edition with the league shifting from the UAE to Karachi city in Pakistan.

Every team is aiming to reach their peak form as it’s the crucial phase of the event and for most teams it’s a do-or-die battle.

The 26 matches in the UAE were keenly followed on television by the fans in Pakistan who enjoyed the last ball and last over thrillers in UAE. The question now in everyone’s mind is will PSL see a new champion. Islamabad United, the winner of the first edition in 2016 and who are the defending champions are battling hard to reach the play-off while Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi have already qualified.

On arrival, Islamabad captain Mohammad Sami echoed the desire of all the teams. “I think this is the right time to peak. Maybe players have not done well in the last few matches, but everyone knows that now is the right time to peak and do well in the knock-out games. So, I hope the players will do well in these matches,” said Sami after arrival at the National Stadium in Karachi. The stadium has been refurbished and dressed up for the event.

Though fans would miss Lahore Qalandars’ South African legendary batman AB de Villiers who pulled out due to a back injury, most of the foreign players have flown to Pakistan.

Among the first timers to visit Pakistan is Peshawar Zalmi’s West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard. It was the Pakistan Cricket Board and Peshawar Zalmi management that convinced him to visit Pakistan.

“I have heard great things about Pakistan and I am definitely loving my visit since I have landed, It’s my first visit, so it’s a great feeling,” said Pollard to psl-t20.com.

Shane Watson, 37-year-old former Australian all-rounder playing for Quetta Galidators, who is among the top stars to visit Pakistan feels that in the UAE leg of the tournaments many bowlers were in top form and that the Karachi matches might get the best out of the bowlers. “The thing that stands out for me is the bowling compared to all other tournaments I have played in. The challenge will be more when the matches are played in Karachi,” said Watson, who has scored over 1,000 runs from this league.

Watson, who opens the innings lauded the young pacers. “There are, at least, one or two fast bowlers in every team who are bowling close to 150kph, which only happens in one or two teams in other leagues. So, that for me is a huge stand-out and signs of strength of Pakistan cricket”. said Watson, whose only tour to Pakistan was with the Australian A team in 2005.

Peshawar skipper Darren Sammy was at usual jovial self over the matches to be held in Pakistan. He told the Pakistan fans: “PSL is coming to you. I’m super excited to turn up in Karachi. So, my message is: turn up and come out and support. It’s going to be big show.”