Quetta Gladiators celebrate their victory over Islamabad United during a PSL match at the Dubai International Stadium. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Sharjah: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which has produced many a thriller in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), is bound to create another exciting chapter of the league in it’s fourth edition in the coming days.

A night match between Multan Sultans and Quetta Gladiators is ushering in the second phase on Wednesday.

Quetta is riding high — having won both their matches while Multan had lost to Karachi Kings in the opening match but won against defending champions Islamabad United.

Multan’s match-winner against Islamabad was the evergreen Shahid Afridi, who produced a splendid all-round show. Sharjah fans, who considers Afridi as their hero and throngs the stands just to watch him, will be delighted to see him in the very first match of the PSL here.

Speaking to Gulf News, Afridi has commented about Sharjah fans: “It’s always been great to be play cricket in Sharjah. I have been able to play some good knocks here and the people here have always supported me.”

Waleed Bukhatir, vice-chairman of Sharjah Cricket Club, that owns the stadium, believes that it is presence of aggressive players like Afridi and other top stars that has helped produce exciting matches at the stadium. “We have eight exciting games of what I believe will be a sensational display of nail-biting finishes. The line-up is first rate and we can expect some great matches.”

Quetta captain Sarfraz Ahmad wants his bowlers to restrict opponents to a small score like they did against Islamabad, who were restricted to 157 for eight thanks to a four-wicket spell from Sohail Tanvir. “We want to restrict teams and not concede runs in the last four overs,” said Sarfraz, who is delighted with his bowling attack. “We are bowling well and Tanvir is bowling so well and also our batsmen Umar (Akmal) and (Shane) Watson are batting well.”

Akmal, who is top form and had scored an unbeaten 74 and 44 in the first two matches, is expected to enthral fans with his big hitting. Watson itself commented on Akmal’s form: “Umar batting like this makes my job easier. Umar takes the pressure off me and though the Dubai wicket was different from last year and a bit of a challenge it is nice to win matches.”

Mazhar Khan, general manger of Sharjah said: “Our ground staff are ensuring the pitches will be conducive to big T20 scores and give fans their money’s worth. We have also increased the seating capacity to ensure that more fans watch the matches.”

Meanwhile, opener Salman Butt will replace Mohammad Hafeez in Lahore Qalandars’ squad for the league, it was announced. Hafeez has been ruled out of the tournament after fracturing his thumb during his side’s February 16 match against Karachi Kings.

Lahore Qalandars requested the Event Technical Committee, headed by Mudassar Nazar, to replace Hafeez with Salman which has been approved.

Salman has been in the player draft for the past three years and comes in as a Silver Category player.