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Islamabad United which finished 4th last year in the Pakistan Super League, will take on defending champions Peshawar Zalmi, who lost their opening contest against the new team Multan Sultans, at Dubai on 24th February in the 4th match of this season. United had a poor run last year after lifting the trophy in 2016, and they will be eager to make a comeback this time with a better performance right from the first match. Zalmi suffered a huge setback as they lost the match against Sultans on Thursday by 7 wickets; they will fight back to redeem themselves here. It needs to be seen which side can conquer the challenges and emerge victorious on Saturday.
Misbah-ul-Haq will lead the side that consists of batsmen like Sam Billings, Alex Hales, Iftikhar Ahmed, Luke Ronchi and Chadwick Walton. Batting all-rounder JP Duminy and other all-rounders like Samit Patel and Andre Russell will add depth to the squad and could help stabilize the innings whether batting first or during a chase. Misbah’s experience and the agility of T20 experts like Duminy and Patel can help them dominate the Zalmi bowlers here in the upcoming match.
The bowling unit consists of speedsters Rumman Raees, Steven Finn, Mohammad Sami and Andre Russell, who could provide quick breakthroughs at regular intervals. Spinners like Shadab Khan, Zafar Gohar, Samit Patel and the experienced player Samuel Badree could showcase their disciplined tactics to contain the Zalmi batsmen. Bowling all-rounders like Faheem Ashraf bring variety to the attack along with other part-timers like Duminy and Iftikhar Ahmed.
Islamabad United have won the championship once and they will be hungry to do well this year too; this is their first outing this season and we could see the players come out with their best foot forward.
Luke Ronchi, CAK Walton, Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Hussain Talat, SR Patel, Andre Russell, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Rumman Raees, Mohammad Sami.
Batting first against debutants Multan Sultans, the top-order that consists of players like Tamim Iqbal and Kamran Akmal failed to live up to expectations and they were out for 22 runs by the 4th over. All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez posted a well-made 59 while Dwayne Smith and captain Darren Sammy scored 20+ runs to take the total to 151.
However, the bowlers couldn’t defend the score despite a brilliant show by pacer Wahab Riaz, who registered 2-19 in 4 overs to cause some hiccups to the opponent’s chase. Spinner Mohammad Asghar also performed well, taking 1 wicket in an economical manner while speedster Chris Jordan tried hard to contain the opponents. They had no answer for the legendary batsman Sangakkara, who pitched in the runs at steady pace and helped win the match.
Zalmi has a well-balanced unit with experienced players like Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Tamim Iqbal, Chris Jordan, Dwayne Smith and Sammy, who could help post a solid foundation here. They could strategize well against the United batsmen and try to make a comeback here.
Tamim Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, DR Smith, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, DJG Sammy, Umaid Asif, Wahab Riaz, Ibtisam Sheikh, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Asghar.
While both sides have the perfect balance of experience and young talent, we feel that Islamabad United has a stronger batting unit that could help them win the match on Saturday.