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We are only a few matches away from the knockout stage and things are beginning to take shape beautifully in Pakistan Super League. With one team already knocked out of the tournament, the competition has intensified between the remaining five teams. Karachi Kings stumbled in their last few matches and lost their top spot to Islamabad United. They are now at the third spot with four wins in seven games. They take on Lahore Qalandars who are languishing at the bottom of the table, but have won their last match and can be dangerous.
After a couple of bad games, the Kings bounced back in style against Multan Sultans. They handed them a 63-runs defeat which could potentially knock Sultans out of the competition if the results of other matches do not go in Multan's favor. Karachi are now at 3rd spot with four wins in 7 games and a win here will take them to the top along with the Quetta Gladiators.
Batting first against the Sultans, the Kings put on a total of 188 runs on the board with contributions from almost everyone. Lendl Simmons was the only batsmen who failed to make a considerable contribution. He was picked up by Mohammad Irfan after limping to 4 runs from 13 deliveries. It was however a totally different story at the other end. Denly took care of the scoring rate early on in the innings. He was eventually dismissed for 78 from 55 balls. Babar Azam and Colin Ingram made useful contributions of 58 and 29 each respectively.
After a delightful performance by the batsmen, bowlers did not disappoint. The veteran all-rounder Shahid Afridi was the pick of their bowlers who grabbed three scalps and gave away only 18 runs in his four overs. He will be a key in the upcoming clash. The Kings have done well in the tournament and they'll like to finish in the top two. After being one of the team to beat in the tournament, they lost their way in between and are now in the middle of the table. They'll be eyeing a top-two finish and if they can repeat event the glimpse of their performance in their last game, things will get tough for the Qalandars.
LMP Simmons, Joe Denly, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, RS Bopara, SMSK Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, SI Wasim, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Amir, UK Khan.
After a string of eight consecutive defeats, Lahore Qalandars fans' finally had something to cheer about as Shahin Afridi wrecked havoc on Multan Sultans batting lineup. Sultans got off to a decent start with an opening stand of 61 between Kumar Sangakkara and Ahmed Shehzad.
Shahin bowled ruthlessly after the time-out as he picked up five wickets and gave away only four runs in his spell. Sunil Narine also bowled well as he opened the flood gates before Afridi unleashed his fury on the Sultans. While bowling has been alright for them right through the tournament, it's been their batting which has struggled.
Chasing 114, the memories of their super over against Islamabad United must have been in their mind, but skipper Brendon McCullum batted right through to ensure that the Super over situation doesn't occur again. While a win may have given them a hope to finish their tournament on the high, the problems still do not look sorted. They'll need yet another miraculous performance from someone to challenge the might of the Karachi Kings.
F Zaman, Anton Devcich, Agha Salman, Gulraiz Sadaf, Brendon McCullum, Sohail Akhtar, SP Narine, Sohail Khan, MJ Mcclenaghan, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi.
The Qalandars aren't as bad a side as the results reflect. They won their first game in more than a year just as Brendon McCullum offered to give up captaincy. And their team responded brilliantly to their captain. While their bowling looked good, it was largely a one-man effort and their batting didn't look comfortable either. Karachi Kings are a strong team and considering the way things have gone in the competition so far, the Kings are more likely to prevail in this encounter.