About the Match
Islamabad started their campaign on a high with a 7-wicket victory over Peshawar Zalmi in the opening match of the series; they will now try to repeat the winning performance when they take on Lahore Qalandars in the 4th Match at Dubai on 11th February. Although weather caused a slight disappointment in the opener, Islamabad and Zalmi batsmen entertained the crowds with some powerful shots; at the end, the reigning champions came back with a bang to chase down the reduced target well within the 18 overs allotted to them. The upcoming match could see some more fireworks across the park, and the team that can cleverly use its resources under tough situations will have the upper hand to win.
Wicket-keeper batsman Brad Haddin impressed with the bat as he posted a superb 73 off 39 to help the team chase down 173 runs against Zalmi with ease; the experienced player brings stability to the middle order along with players like Shane Watson, who contributed with 26 off 13 to reach the target, Misbah-ul-Haq and Sam Billings. Opener Dwayne Smith provided a solid foundation with a well-made 55 while Sharjeel Khan also brings his years of experience to the batting contingent.
Earlier, the bowlers took regular wickets but proved to be expensive against the hard-hitting Zalmi batsmen; Watson was brilliant with a 4-wicket haul while speedsters Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Irfan took 2 wickets each to contain the opponents at 190. Spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed 1 scalp and along with others like Imran Khalid can use bowling variations to stun the Qalandars here.
Overall, they have done well to win the first game and would be determined to climb up the ladder with another win on Saturday; Misbah has a good resource pool that makes United a tough contender again.
Experienced bowlers Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan and spinner Sunil Narine combined beautifully to stifle the Gladiators to 136 runs in their opening match; they are strong pillars of the bowling squad and can cause havoc on the Islamabad batsmen too. Speedster Bilawal Bhatti, spinner Yasir Shah and the versatile all-rounder Grant Elliott bring depth to the attack and could try to dominate the opponents in a focused manner on Saturday.
The batting line-up has stalwarts like Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy and Umar Akmal in the top-order while players like Elliott, Mohammad Rizwan and youngster Fakhar Zaman could try to keep the scoreboard ticking. Although they had a dismal series in the inaugural season, the Qalandars could prove to be a tough nut to crack if they strategize well against the opponent.
McCullum’s never-say-die spirit could enthuse his team mates to put up a better show this time around; and they will leave no stone unturned to win against Islamabad.
The Qalandars have a balanced mix of pace and spin which could prove to be deadly against the Islamabad hard-hitters; however, we feel that the latter go in as clear favorites to win their second match after their sensational win in the opener.