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The Pakistan Super League has always been a tightly contested league and PSL 2018 is proving to be no different. The Quetta Gladiators were one of the pre-tournament favorites while Islamabad United was supposed to be the whipping boy of the league. Currently, both teams are sitting on one win after two matches and both have a chance to improve on their performance so far. With wins for both teams in their previous match, this encounter promises to be an exciting one.
An excellent bowling performance by Islamabad United’s fast bowlers set the stage for their victory against the Multan Sultans. The decision to draft Steven Finn into the team worked wonders as the Englishman went for just 14 runs in his four overs and picked up one wicket as well.
Rumman Raees was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets to his name while Mohammad Sami did well and took two wickets as well.
There would be some concern about the lack of impact that Shadab Khan has had in the tournament so far and Andre Russell’s continuing poor form. Shadab Khan first made his name in the PSL but seems to be trying a little too hard this season. All he needs to do is to be consistent and back his strengths because his talent is undoubted.
Andre Russell is clearly rusty and will take a few more games before returning to his best. If the West Indian can come close to the kind of form he was in before his suspension then Islamabad United is going to become exponentially more potent.
The batting remains a problem for Islamabad United and this is where we think they will be caught out. Luke Ronchi registered another low score in the tournament while Chadwick Walton looks a little out of his depth as well.
Islamabad’s three overseas players scored a combined total of 28 runs, all from the bat of Chadwick Walton. Even a low chase like the one they face in their last match can become problematic for Islamabad United.
We are keen to see whether Faheem Ashraf can continue to score some very useful cameos in the lower order. He bats with complete freedom and clearly has an excellent eye. If Ashraf, Asif Ali, and Hussain Talat can contribute runs consistently then it will keep Islamabad United in the tournament until their overseas players begin to come good as well.
Luke Ronchi, CAK Walton, Jean-Paul Duminy, Asif Ali, Misbah-ul-Haq, Hussain Talat, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Sami, Rumman Raees, ST Finn.
Quetta may have started the tournament slowly but they absolutely crushed the Lahore Qalandars in their second match. Jofra Archer bowled with fire to pick three wickets while Shane Watson bludgeoned sixes for fun.
The end result was a crushing victory for the Quetta Gladiators that will put them in an excellent frame of mind and boost their net run-rate as well.
Quetta will also be very pleased to have seen Asad Shafiq score runs at the top of the order. Batting has been the core strength of the Quetta Gladiators in the past and the blueprint that the team is working on this season as well.
Asad Shafiq, Shane Watson, Rilee Rossow, and Sarfaraz Ahmed are four excellent players in this lineup. We have deliberately left Kevin Pietersen out of that list because we believe he is well past his prime and will struggle to make any impact this season.
In fact, we would much rather see Rilee Rossow come in at 3 or 4 than Kevin Pietersen.
Shane Watson struck 66 not out in the last match from just 42 balls. He is the kind of player that can get on a hot streak and make every game count. As fans and punters, we are definitely backing Shane Watson to make PSL 2018 his stomping ground.
While Quetta may have an excellent batting lineup, their bowling is not too mad either. Jofra Archer, Rahat Ali, Shane Watson, and Mohammad Nawaz make for a very decent lineup. Rahat Ali has the tendency to go for some runs and Shane Watson can be targeted by some teams as well, however, Jofra Archer provides the Gladiators the ‘X’ factor they crave.
Mohammad Nawaz and Hussain Khan may not be the biggest names in this lineup but their ten overs will be very crucial as well. We believe that Quetta has some weaknesses in their bowling lineup and this is where opposition teams will try to put them under pressure.
Chasing a big total could also shed some cracks in their batting lineup although, with a player like Shane Watson in form, Quetta Gladiators will be the favorites going into most matches.
Asad Shafiq, SR Watson, Umar Amin, KP Pietersen, Mahmudullah, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, JW Hastings, Hassan Khan, A Ali, Rahat Ali.
This will be the first match played in Sharjah and so we expect a much better pitch for batting. Sharjah has traditionally served up some excellent batting surfaces that are completely devoid of any help for the fast bowlers. The spinners may get a little purchase from the surface but the pitch should favor the batsmen completely, at least for the first few matches.
Islamabad United has beaten the Quetta Gladiators in their last three matches. Winning this game is probably more crucial for them than it is for the Quetta Gladiators at this early stage. We are, however, backing the Quetta Gladiators to win this match comfortably and move on upwards in the league standings.