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We are more than midway into the Pakistan Super League and there are still a lot of permutations and combinations possible to govern the final four spots. The bottom-placed Multan Sultans rocked Islamabad United in a recently concluded game and moved up two spots in the points table. Although the United would have cherished for a win, they won't really mind a one-off loss considering the position they're in as far as the ladder is concerned. However, they'll be looking to put up an improved performance in their next match wherein they face bottom-placed Karachi Kings at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on 27th February. Karachi Kings are coming off a massive victory over Quetta Gladiators and another win here will certainly put them back in contention for the playoff spots.
The absence of Ian Bell, who is ruled out of the tournament, was clearly felt in United's assignment against Multan Sultans where their batting failed to put up a fighting total on a decent Dubai surface following which they lost the match comprehensively by six wickets.
Batting first, Luke Ronchi, Samit Patel, and Asif Ali were the only ones who looked threatening during their brief respective stays as they folded for just 121. Considering the way their batting has fared in the tournament thus far and with Ian Bell no longer available, they clearly lack someone who can play a sheet-anchor role in case of early losses, something which Bell did perfectly in their win over Peshawar Zalmi.
Defending a below-par total, Islamabad United needed early wickets and they not only failed to get any but also leaked plenty of runs in the powerplay. Mohammad Musa was hit for 43 in his four overs and was arguably the only weak link in the United's bowling. Although Samit Patel, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, and Rumman Raees bowled well and pulled things back a tad, the 121-run total proved to be too little to defend.
Luke Ronchi, C Delport, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Philip Salt, SR Patel, Rumman Raees, Muhammad Musa, Amad Butt.
With arguably the best batsmen of Pakistan in their lineup and decent overseas contingent, Karachi Kings never would have dreamt of being a candidate of getting the wooden spoon, nor would have their fans. However, they are struggling at the bottom of the bit with two wins in five matches and are in desperate need of a win.
They defeated Quetta Gladiators in their last match which is something the four other teams failed to do in their respective. The win would have imbibed Kings with a lot of belief and confidence which they'll be looking to take into the next encounter.
Chasing 186, things were looking bleak for the Kings as they were two down for four when Colin Ingram walked out to bat. Although Awais Zia and Liam Livingstone played vital roles in the respective partnerships they had with Ingram, they couldn't really pull the required rate down. Post Awais Zia's dismissal, Colin Ingram decided to take the matter into his own hands and what followed thereafter was magic. Ingram singlehandedly changed the fate of the match as he smashed all Gladiators' bowlers on his way to 59-ball 127. Kings emerged victorious with eight balls to spare in a match which at one time looked like a lost battle for them.
Earlier with the ball, Kings started off well with impressive spells from Imad Wasim and Aamer Yamin. They, however, failed to produce a similar kind of effort in the death overs with almost every bowler leaking runs. Sohail Khan proved to be the most expensive bowler of the lost and carted for 32 runs in his two overs. Even though he could not pick any wickets, Imad Wasim, who conceded just 13 off his four overs, was the pick of the bowlers.
Babar Azam, Colin Munro, Iftikhar Ahmed, Colin Ingram, Liam Livingstone, Ben Dunk, SI Wasim, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Umer Khan, Usman Khan.
It was not a long ago when these two teams met for the last time in the tournament where Islamabad United trumped Karachi Kings in a one-sided affair. Having said that, things have changed for both the sides ever since and no side would want to be complacent going into the upcoming fixture. Karachi Kings are although placed at the bottom of the table, a win here will push them into the top half of the table. Ingram's century would have taken plenty of pressure off Babar Azam who earlier appeared to be their only reliable batsmen. Considering the recent results and the teams on paper, Karachi Kings - with a strong batting lineup and a decent bowling attack, are better-placed to win the upcoming contest and march ahead in the tournament.
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