Windies legend Darren Sammy hopeful of PSL glory with Peshawar Zalmi

Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy believes the quality of the upcoming Pakistan Super League will be higher than previous editions with very little between the six sides competing in the UAE and Pakistan. (AFP)
Updated 12 February 2019
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Windies legend Darren Sammy hopeful of PSL glory with Peshawar Zalmi

LONDON: Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy believes the quality of the upcoming Pakistan Super League will be higher than previous editions with very little between the six sides competing in the UAE and Pakistan this year.
Peshawar, the 2017 champions, have bolstered their ranks and, despite fears they will struggle, Sammy is confident the depth of his squad will be enough to wrest back the trophy from Islamabad United.
“All six teams are very balanced and that is good because we will get to see quality cricket in HBL PSL once again,” he said.
“I have had the great honor of leading a very talented Peshawar Zalmi side for two years and, this year, we have greater depth in the squad and the experience that guys like Misbah (ul-Huq) and (Kieron) Pollard bring to our squad is invaluable.
“We always get great support from our Zalmi fans in the UAE but we are all very excited to experience the love and warmth of crowds in Karachi once again. We are Zalmis and our goal is always to win.”
Captain of the defending champions Islamabad, Mohammad Sami thinks he has enough to keep the title in the Pakistani capital.
“I have looked at the squad and there are so many options for us. The young guys have impressed everyone in our training sessions and we are carrying on our tradition of developing the emerging talent of Pakistan. I hope I can lead this group to another trophy.
“We are all working really hard but in the end, we just want to keep things simple, play good cricket and if we do that then the results will come on their own.”
One of the main challengers to Islamabad’s crown are the Karachi Kings, and their captain Imad Wasim is proud of the mix of Pakistani and International talent.
“The squad has a balanced core of local players and some excellent foreign players. We are keen to do well this year and get our hands on the trophy.
“It will be a dream come true for all of us to lift the trophy in front of our home crowd on 17 March and we are going to do everything in our control to win it.”
Sarfraz Ahmed, who was confirmed as Pakistan’s captain for the summer’s World Cup in England — despite serving a ban for racism — is hoping his Quetta Gladiators can go one better having come close to sealing the PSL title in recent seasons.
“We have come close in the past three years, but we have not been able to get the desired results. The entire Quetta Gladiators squad is determined to change that this time around.
“We focused on our retention list this year since we wanted consistency in developing our squad. It helps that we have senior pros like Shane Watson and Rilee Rossouw returning and they will help the young boys ease into the tournament.
“I am particularly excited about our young pace bowling talent and I can’t wait to see Ghulam Mudassar and Mohammad Hasnain in action whenever they get a chance.”
The PSL’s early stages take place in the UAE — at Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi — before moving over to Karachi and Lahore for the playoffs.


Blue Point focused on Al-Quoz glory after magical run at Meydan

Updated 15 February 2019
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Blue Point focused on Al-Quoz glory after magical run at Meydan

  • Star sprinter proves class with easy G2 win in Dubai.
  • Charlie Appleby hopeful over Al-Quoz Sprint chances.

LONDON: Star sprinter Blue Point is on course for glory in the much-anticipated Al-Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night. That is the message from Godolphin after a brilliant victory in the G2 Meydan Sprint on Thursday.
The Dubai-based stable have long held high hopes for the Shamardal horse and the five-year-old’s win confirmed that they have something special on their hands.
Blue Point took up the running from Faatinah with more than two furlongs to race and readily opened up daylight over his rivals approaching the final furlong, quickly going clear.
For Charlie Appleby the performance only went to prove that Blue Point has it in him to steal the show on Dubai World Cup night in March.
“If he brought his class, he was going to be good enough to win, but we had left a bit on him because the G1 Al-Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night is our target,” the Godolphin trainer said.
“No disrespect to this race, and we were pleased to win it, but it was the right stepping stone onto the Al-Quoz.
“I was pleased to see him in the paddock, more so than a couple of days ago when it looked like he had a couple of pounds left on him. He had tightened up a bit.
“We were always confident that he was going to come forward for whatever he did. He is a five-year-old now and a professional — getting better with racing. He came alive two furlongs down and it was only a matter of William asking him to pick up and do a bit of work.”
The “Boys in Blue” always place a lot of focus on the World Cup night and a second win in the Al-Quoz sprint — Appleby saddled Jungle Cat to victory last year — is one of the aims for the famous race meeting in March.
“I am very pleased and, all being well, he should step forward for it and all roads will now lead to the Al-Quoz Sprint,” Appleby said.
“I feel that he is not overly exposed as a sprinter — we looked after him as a two-year-old and a three-year-old, while he wasn’t over-raced last year so he is entitled still to be learning.”
Added to the optimism surrounding Blue Point is the fact that William Buick feels he is coming to form at just the right time.
“It was a nice comeback opportunity for Blue Point and he did it very comfortably, doing everything right. It was lovely to see him come back like that,” the jockey said. “He has probably matured a little bit compared to 12 months ago and the biggest difference this year is that he is a G1 winner this time. He had proved himself and feels like a very confident horse — there is no question that he is a top sprinter.”
Meanwhile, Godolphin’s star G1 performers Hartnell, Best Of Days and Alizee have been entered for the world’s richest mile race, the $5 million All-Star Mile to be run at Flemington on March 16.
Head trainer James Cummings confirmed that all three horses will seek a place in the famous race.
“We think it’s great the way in which it really engages with not only the racing audience, but potentially reaching out beyond just that and bringing in a wider audience from not only Australia, but from around the world,” Cummings said. “We’re really excited to be a part of the richest mile race anywhere in the world.”