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Karachi Kings defeated Quetta Gladiators in their opening match by 19 runs to accumulate 2 points; they are in the 2nd position now and will take on Peshawar Zalmi, the defending champions, on 25th February at Dubai. Zalmi were handed a humiliating defeat by debutants Multan Sultans in their first match but bounced back with a win against Islamabad United by 34 runs. Zalmi is placed third with 2 points, just behind Karachi Kings and it needs to be seen which team can conquer the challenges and emerge victorious on Sunday.
The top-order did well to post 149 runs batting first against Gladiators with players like Colin Ingram, who scored 41 off 21 and Khurram Manzoor who posted 35 runs opening the innings, building a good foundation. All-rounder batsman Ravi Bopara showcased his skills with a well-made 24 but others down the line failed to impress. They have a deep batting unit and could do well against Zalmi bowlers.
The bowlers then excelled with pace and spin, as TS Mills and Mohammad Irfan took 2 wickets each while spinners Imad Wasim and Shahid Afridi took 3 wickets between them. Ace speedster Mohammad Amir also claimed 1 wicket, helping to win the match by 19 runs.
Karachi Kings have experienced batsmen like Bopara, Ingram, Afridi and Babar Azam, who can build a steady innings whether batting first or during chase. Their bowling unit is strong with a well-balanced mix of pace and spin. If they come out all guns blazing with the bat, then the Kings can surely win here.
Khurram Manzoor, Joe Denly, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, RS Bopara, SMSK Afridi, SI Wasim, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan, TS Mills.
Batting first, they posted a strong 176-run target for Islamabad United; Kamran Akmal top-scored with 53 off just 32 deliveries while Tamim Iqbal played a useful knock of 39 off 29. Dwayne Smith and Mohammad Hafeez contributed with 30 runs each to steer the innings to 176. Later, the bowlers combined their strengths well to outwit the United batsmen thanks to a stunning 4-23 by pacer Umaid Asif and 3-20 by spinner Ibtisam Sheikh. Others like Wahab Riaz and Chris Jordan also contained the opponents, helping them win the match by 34 runs.
In the match against Sultans, the batting line-up could muster only 151 runs as Hafeez posted 59 while Smith and Sammy contributed with 20+ runs each. Others like Tamim Iqbal, Akmal and Haris Sohail failed to build strong partnerships, and the bowlers couldn’t defend the total against a determined debutant team. Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Asghar took 3 wickets between them, but others proved to be expensive.
They have a tremendous pace attack and several hard-hitters in the top-order, who can help them dominate. Overall, Peshawar Zalmi have done well to bounce back, and the players will be motivated to keep the winning momentum going.
Tamim Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, DR Smith, Mohammad Hafeez, DJG Sammy, Haris Sohail, Wahab Riaz, Umaid Asif, Ibtisam Sheikh, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Asghar.
Peshawar Zalmi bowlers unleashed their bowling power to win the recent match and look well poised for another victory here. Although Zalmi too are coming on the back of a victory, we thing that with the experienced players available, the Kings have experienced players, we feel Zalmi have the edge here to win again on Sunday.