About the Match
Islamabad defeated Qalandars by 5 wickets to maintain the third spot on the table; they will now take on Karachi Kings, who sneaked into the top four even after suffering defeat to Zalmi, in the 2nd Qualifying Final of the Pakistan Super League at Dubai on 20th February. Both teams have fought hard to keep their campaign alive and this match is crucial as it will eliminate the loser from the tournament. The winner of the upcoming match will take on the losing team from the first qualifying final that is to be played today; it will surely be a thrilling contest and the team that can keep its nerves together under crunch situations and execute the strategy to perfection will win here.
Irfan’s 3-22 helped restrict Qalandars to 150 runs, which the batsmen Brad Haddin, Misbah-ul-Haq and Khalid Latif successfully chased down with one over to spare. The victory has certainly boosted their morale and they will try to put their best foot forward here to make it to the finals.
When they met Karachi Kings twice earlier, United had defeated the opponents both times, once by 2 runs after defending 132 and the other time by 5 wickets after the bowlers restricted them to a measly 128 runs the middle-order batsmen combining well to win the match. Sharjeel Khan, Dwayne Smith and Andre Russell are powerful top-order players but they need to come out all guns blazing in order to post a good total or chase easily. Misbah-ul-Haq has been consistent in getting the runs and building partnerships while Khalid Latif, Asif Ali and Haddin do well to keep the scoreboard ticking.
On the bowling front, they have performers like Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Irfan, Imran Khalid, Rumman Raees and Azhar Mahmood who have been consistently providing breakthroughs. With specialists like Saeed Ajmal and Badree, United definitely has the variety and depth in its attack. They will focus on the end goal and try to repeat their match-winning performance against Kings.
They have been lucky to make it through despite losing against Zalmi and they will take this opportunity to redeem themselves. Simmons did well against Zalmi as he scored 49 runs but others in the middle order could just do enough to get the total to a respectable 152. However, the bowlers gave away too many runs and in spite of consistent wickets, they lost the match by 5 wickets.
Their record against United has been poor as they lost both contests during the league stage; if the batsmen like Ravi Bopara, Shakib Al Hasan, Shaoib Malik and Simmons can build a solid foundation, then they have a chance here to avenge their defeat and make it through.
The bowling department consists of Bilawal Bhatti, Usama Mir, Mohammad Amir, Sohail Khan and part-timers Bopara and Hasan, who will bring their skills to the table; they should strategize well against the United batsmen in order to contain the run-flow and pressurise the opponents.
This being an eliminator, both teams will leave no stone unturned to dominate the other on Saturday; however, we feel that United will continue with its winning momentum to survive this challenge and emerge victorious here