About the Match
The Kings are steadily catching up with the rest of the teams as they registered their second victory by defeating Zalmi in the last game by 9 runs to take the points tally to 4; they will try to better their standing on the table with another win when they meet Gladiators at Dubai on 23rd February. The Gladiators are positioned at the top with 7 points after 5 matches and will fight hard to continue leading the pack. It needs to be seen which side can overcome the challenges on the field and win this round on Thursday.
They have lost earlier to Gladiators but they have come a long way since then, winning two consecutive games and showing their determination to stay alive. They won the previous game against Zalmi by successfully defending the 174 runs the batsmen posted batting first. Speedsters Usman Khan and Sohail Khan destroyed the opposition’s chase by taking 3 wickets each in regular intervals. Spinners Usama Mir and Imad Wasim also provided breakthroughs by taking 3 wickets between them, and they strengthen the attack with their clever variations.
Babar Azam has emerged as a consistent run-machine and he posted 46 runs in the last match too; Shoaib Malik came back to form as he scored an unbeaten half-century off just 27 balls while Ravi Bopara and Sangakkara played useful knocks to keep the scoreboard ticking. Gayle is yet to come out all guns blazing but he is a vital asset in the batting line-up.
Against United, the bowlers demolished the opposition stifling them at 90 runs in a reduced game of 13 overs; with the chase reduced to 68 runs within 10 overs, Azam came out full throttle to post 47 off 30 and get the team their first victory. The players are motivated to do better and they could prove to be a tough nut to crack here.
Task of chasing down 201 runs against Qalandars didn’t cause a tumble-down of the batting line-up and players like Kevin Pietersen, who scored a brilliant unbeaten 88 off 42, Rilee Rossouw and Sarfraz Ahmed, who posted 45 off 25, ensured they got the runs on the board with ease. The victory by 5 wickets and 7 balls to spare has catapulted them to the top position on the table and they will try to repeat the winning performance against Kings, whom they have defeated earlier by 7 wickets.
The bowlers had an off-day against Qalandars except for Zulfiqar Babar and Hasan Khan, who bowled economically and took 3 wickets between them. Others like Nawaz, Anwar Ali and Mahmudullah couldn’t contain the run-flow of the opponents. Against Zalmi, Mahmudullah, Rossouw and Hasan Khan picked up a wicket each but the game was eventually washed away by rain.
Rossouw and Sarfraz Ahmed have had success against the Kings bowlers earlier, and they will try to stabilize from the middle-order; with Pietersen back to form, the Gladiators can post a stiff challenge whether batting first or chase a target comfortably.
Gladiators have been consistently doing well with bat and ball, with players contributing in a team effort under crunch situations; Kings are rejoicing their recently-found success and could fight back hard. The contest is likely to go down to the wire but we feel that Karachi with their all-around performance have an upper hand to emerge victorious here