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|Imran Khan Jr||2.4||0||24||1||9.00|
PSL 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting one as almost all the teams are finding their combinations. Islamabad United beat the Karachi Kings in the last match and are within one victory of moving to the top of the table. Their opponents are the Lahore Qalandars, a team that has not won a single match in this competition. To count out the Qalandars, though, would be stupid because they have the players to turn this stretch of form around.
What a difference a win can make. Islamabad United won its first match against the Lahore Qalandars this season by the skin of their teeth. It took a Super Over to separate the two teams and it was the first victory for Islamabad United.
Their next match was against the unbeaten Karachi Kings whom they demolished with ease. They will now go up against the Lahore Qalandars once again with two wins while their opponents remain winless.
We loved the aggression that Islamabad showed in their last match against the Karachi Kings. They recognized that their best two batsmen must get the chance to play the maximum overs. JP Duminy and Luke Ronchi at the top of the order took the attack to the strongest bowling attack in the tournament and absolutely crushed them.
We do worry what happens when Luke Ronchi inevitably goes back to his inconsistent self or when JP Duminy gets out early. The middle order for Islamabad United is pretty weak and needs one of the overseas players to come through.
Andre Russell got some lusty hits in the middle and that is a huge plus going forward. Russell has shown plenty of times in the past that he is capable of changing games with both the bat and ball but is understandably a little rusty after his year-long hiatus.
Mohammad Sami, Faheem Ashraf, and Shadab Khan also did well with the ball in the last game but this is again not a bowling attack that we rate very highly. Mohammad Sami can be very expensive while Samit Patel is not the threat in this league that he is in others.
In fact, on the whole, we believe that the entire Islamabad United is an average unit which is going through an excellent phase right now. The wicket of JP Duminy and the bowling of Mohammad Sami will be the two most important factors that determine until when this winning phase lasts for them.
Sahibzada Farhan, Luke Ronchi, Jean-Paul Duminy, Misbah-ul-Haq, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, SR Patel, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, ST Finn, Mohammad Sami.
5 matches. 5 losses. PSL 2018 does not make for a pretty reading for the Lahore Qalandars right now. They have continued to make the same mistakes in consecutive matches and just seem to fall short during the decisive phases of the game.
Of course, the closest that they cam to recording a win was against Islamabad United. They tied a match that they should have won and then ended up losing narrowly in the Super Over.
We believe they have an excellent chance to avenge their loss and record their first win of the tournament.
Mustafizur Rahman will have left the side for national duty and so that is going to be a big loss for them. They have made an excellent addition to their side in the form of Anton Devcich. The burly New Zealander was exceptional in the Super Smash T20 tournament and we can see why Brendon McCullum would want him in his side.
Speaking of McCullum. It is really time for him to fire and show what he is capable of. McCullum has got a few starts in this tournament but we are still waiting on that one inning where everything he tries comes off.
In fact, Fakhar Zaman is the player that has looked in better touch. Zaman has also been getting out against the run of play. He starts off at incredible speed and then falls when the bowlers seem to be at his mercy. If he can just pace his innings a little better then we are sure that he will be able to record his first major score of the tournament as well.
We are not sure what role Denesh Ramdin has been assigned in this time but he looks like a complete misfit in this side and indeed T20 cricket. Umar Akmal or even Sunil Narine would be a much better choice at the top of the order.
Maybe Ramdin was right in with the aim of providing some stability when he bats and behind the wickets but he must be replaced by Devcich for this match.
The Lahore Qalandars are going through a phase where nothing they try works. It is no surprise then that the bowling attack of Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah, Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman, and Salman Irshad is not looking too good.
The onus must be on Yasir Shah and Sunil Narine to raise their performances and lead from the front in conditions that favor them.
Brendon McCullum, F Zaman, Anton Devcich, Agha Salman, Denesh Ramdin, SP Narine, Salman Irshad, Aamer Yamin, Yasir Shah, Sohail Khan, Imran Khan Jr.
The Dubai International Stadium has proven to be the better one for batsmen and we expect it to continue in this match as well. The wicket has better pace and bounce which keeps all disciplines of the team in the game.
The batsmen from both sides will be expected to do the bulk of the work towards getting them a win.
The last five matches between the two sides have resulted in two wins for both sides and a tie. Both of these sides are flawed and wildly unpredictable. We think that JP Duminy and Brendon McCullum hold the fortunes of their respective teams in their hands. The Lahore Qalandars are the underdogs in this match, understandably so, but we think they are the team to back.