About the Match
Islamabad United lost their last game against Lahore Qalandars by 6 wickets and they now stand in the 4th place with 2 points; they will take on Quetta Gladiators, who won both their games till now and are in the 2nd place with 4 points, on 15th February at Sharjah. The Gladiators defeated Karachi Kings recently by 7 wickets after successfully chasing down 160 runs with 5 balls to spare; they had earlier won the game against Qalandars too by 8 runs thanks to a wonderful display of grit and talent by the bowlers who defended a humble total of 136 with ease. The reigning champions, United need to make a comeback here and they will leave no stone unturned to win on Wednesday.
Misbah-ul-Haq led the team from the front with an unbeaten 61 batting first against Qalandars to take the scoreboard to 158; however, his efforts went in vain as the bowlers couldn’t contain the opposition from hitting the winning runs. Openers Dwayne Smith and Sam Billings too played useful knocks, scoring 30+ runs but others like Watson, Haddin and Asif Ali fell for single digits.
The bowlers found quick breakthroughs initially with fast-bowlers Rumman Raees and Mohammad Sami taking one scalp each but thereon they gave away easy runs. Shane Watson provided relief with Akmal’s wicket while Saeed Ajmal dismissed Elliott at 3 but it wasn’t enough to win the match. In the opening game against Zalmi, the bowlers proved to be expensive but the batsmen chased down a reduced target of 173 runs easily with the D/L method in place.
Watson is in tremendous form with the ball, as seen from his 4-wicket haul against Zalmi; along with other speedsters like Irfan, Sami and Raees they can try to stifle the opponents. Ajmal is a vital asset and they could combine well to put up a better performance here.
Chasing 160 against Karachi Kings, Rilee Rossouw posted a match-winning 76 off 53 along with Sarfraz Ahmed’s superb 56 off 42, to steer the team across the finish line with 5 balls to spare. Earlier, the pacemen Thisara Perera and Tymal S Mills took 5 wickets between them in an economical manner to stifle the opposition to 159; they along with others like Anwar Ali and spinners Mohammad Nawaz, Zulfiqar Babar and Hasan Khan could prove to be a tough nut to crack by the United batsmen too.
Against Qalandars, Rossouw had smashed 60 off 47 to take the total to a humble 136 runs as others failed to support with the bat; it was a spectacular effort by the spinners, who provided regular breakthroughs and broke partnerships, that got the team their first victory by a close 8 runs. While Hasan Khan, Babar, and Nawaz took 2 wickets each, speedsters Mills and Anwar Ali had taken 1 scalp each to get the opponents all-out by the 19th over.
The batting line-up has experienced players like Kevin Pietersen, Rossouw, Sarfraz Ahmed and last year’s top-scorer Ahmed Shehzad; with the bowlers in good form, the Gladiators surely look to be a formidable force to reckon with.
The Gladiators have emerged to be a tough contender with two consecutive wins and they will be eager to continue with their winning momentum; United, on the other hand, will fight hard to make a comeback. The contest could be evenly fought but we feel that United with their determined approach are better placed to win on Wednesday