About the Match
The Gladiators occupy the top position with 7 points after 5 matches and will take on Islamabad United, who are placed 3rd with 6 points, on 24th February at Dubai. Gladiators recently defeated Qalandars by 5 wickets after chasing down a tough target of 201 with 7 balls to spare; when they met United earlier, they had lost the match but have ever since gone strong to climb up the ladder. Islamabad, on the other hand, lost the recent thriller of a match against Qalandars by 1 wicket after failing to defend 145 and they will be eager to make a comeback here.
Defending 145 against Qalandars, the fast-bowlers did very well to take regular wickets with Rumman Raees claiming 3-26 and others like Irfan, Sami and Watson providing quick breakthroughs; spinner Shadab Khan took 2 wickets in an economical display of his skills but they couldn’t stop the opposition from hitting the winning runs in a thrilling finish. Shadab had also been the top-scorer in this match as he posted a heroic 42 off 24 before getting run-out; others like Smith, Haddin, Duckett, Misbah and Watson failed to impress with the bat.
In the earlier match against Zalmi, the speedsters once again proved their mettle as they stifled the opponents at 136; Mohammad Sami took 3-26 while Raees, Irfan and Butt took 4 scalps between them. Shadab provided 2 wickets as well and the batsmen chased down the target easily thanks to Smith’s superb unbeaten 72 off 59.
They have defeated Gladiators earlier after Sam Billings helped chase down 149 runs with his well-made 78 off 50; Watson played a useful knock by scoring 36 off 27 and they won the match with 5 balls to spare. The team has an excellent pace attack and the spinners provide depth to the squad. They have proved to be a formidable force to reckon with and could repeat the winning performance here.
Kevin Pietersen’s brilliant 88 off 42 helped them clinch victory against Qalandars by chasing down a tall target of 201 runs; Rossouw and Sarfraz Ahmed supported well at the other end by scoring 33 off 18 and 45 off 25 respectively. The thumping victory by 5 wickets and 7 balls in hand has boosted the morale of the team and they will leave no stone unturned to avenge their previous defeat against United.
The batting line-up has other experienced batsmen like Ahmed Shehzad and Thisara Perera, who could stabilize the innings; the bowling unit has in-form spinners like Mohammad Nawaz, Zulfiqar Babar and Mahmudullah, who have been consistent in their wicket-taking abilities. Fast-bowlers Hasan Khan, Anwar Ali and Perera could try and stifle the opposition with their disciplined attack.
While batting first against United previously, they could muster only 148 wherein opener Asad Shafiq top-scored with 45; however, the bowlers found it difficult to defend the score despite a good performance by Nawaz, who claimed 2-18. The Gladiators are going strong this season and could prove to be a tough nut to crack in the upcoming match.
Both teams have match-winners in the batting and bowling departments, and the contest could swing either way, but we feel that Gladiators with their recent win are looking better placed to emerge victorious on Friday