After two entertaining days of cricket, the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) moves into the third day at Dubai, which will also be a double-header. Fans gathered in good numbers on the weekend, providing for a brilliant atmosphere at the Ring of Fire.
The second day saw the Karachi Kings edging past the spirited Multan Sultans by just seven runs in the day, while Quetta Gladiators eased past last year’s runners-up, Peshawar Zalmi in the second match of the day.
Moving on to Saturday, the first of the double-header sees the defending champions, Islamabad United, lock horns with Multan Sultans, who have begun their campaign on a losing note. The second encounter will be between two heated rivals, Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars.
The Multan Sultans were looking down and out in their opening game against the Karachi Kings, with their openers making history by putting up the highest partnership for a single wicket in the PSL. Nevertheless, the Sultans came back after some top death bowling by Andre Russell and Junaid Khan while some brilliant batting by skipper Malik and Laurie Evans also provided for positive signs for the team. The Sultans will be hoping to turn their fortunes around, and get a maiden win on the table.
On the other hand, the return to form for Hussain Talat, Asif Ali and Faheem Ashraf with the bat will all be in favor of the Islamabad United, who have a long batting line-up. Moreover, their death bowling against the Lahore Qalandars also proved to be pivotal in the result of the match. Head coach Dean Jones will be hoping that his boys can replicate the performance, and get off to a perfect start.
Players to watch out for:
The Multan Sultans skipper, Shoaib Malik, put up a spirited show in their opening clash against the Karachi Kings with a quick-fire fifty. The knock could not help his side get over the line as the team fell 7 runs short. However, Malik’s brilliant innings will make him a dangerous player to watch out for in the Islamabad United dugout.
Luke Ronchi had a relatively quite first game according to his standards. The veteran was the highest run-scorer and the player of the tournament last season, and he will be looking to continue his PSL form this year as well. With that being said, he will be the player Multan Sultans would want to get early to push the defending champions on the backfoot.
Predicted playing XI:
Multan Sultans: 1. Shan Masood, 2. Johnson Charles / Tom Moores (wk), 3. Laurie Evans, 4. Shoaib Malik (capt), 5. Andre Russell, 6. Shahid Afridi, 7. Hammad Azam, 8. Chris Green, 9. Junaid Khan, 10. Mohammad Ilyas, 11. Mohammad Irfan
Islamabad United: 1. Luke Ronchi (wk), 2. Rizwan Hussein, 3. Ian Bell, 4. Hussain Talat, 5. Cameron Delport, 6. Asif Ali, 7. Shadab Khan, 8. Faheem Ashraf, 9. Samit Patel, 10. Mohammad Sami (capt), 11. Waqas Maqsood
The defending champions were off to a great start in the opening game against Lahore Qalandars and they will look to continue their good form. With a deep batting line-up and a brilliant set of bowlers, United will be entering the game as favourite to topple the opposition.