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Lahore Qalandars continued their losing streak as they suffered defeat against Karachi Kings in the last match by 27 runs; they are presently at the bottom of the table with zero points and will take on Islamabad United, who are placed 5th with 2 points, at Sharjah on 2nd March. Islamabad United also lost their last encounter with Quetta Gladiators by 6 wickets and will be eager to make a comeback before its too late. Both teams are desperate for a win and could come out all guns blazing on Friday to climb up the ladder.
Chasing 159 against Karachi Kings proved to be an uphill climb for the Qalandars batsmen as hard-hitters like Sunil Narine, Umar Akmal and Denesh Ramdin were ousted cheaply early on. Brendon McCullum led from the front with a well-made 44 but with no good partnerships throughout the chase, they lost the match by 27 runs in the end. Earlier, spinners Yasir Shah and Sunil Narine took 2 wickets each while speedster Sohail Khan also dismissed 2 batsmen to contain the opponents to 159. Pacer Mustafizur Rahman also took a wicket and adds depth to the attack.
Batting first against Gladiators, McCullum and Sunil Narine set up a good foundation but others down the line couldn’t sustain the run-flow. They could muster only 119 runs in the end, and the bowlers failed to defend the lowly total as they proved to be expensive. Narine dismissed one opponent but hardly had enough to fight with; they lost the match by 9 wickets.
The Qalandars are a strong unit with experienced players like Narine, Mustafizur Rahman Yasir Shah, Brendon McCullum and Umar Akmal, who can steady the innings and outwit the opponents on Friday.
Brendon McCullum, F Zaman, SP Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Agha Salman, Sohail Akhtar, Yasir Shah, Mustafizur Rahman, Sohail Khan, Umar Akmal, Salman Irshad.
Batting first against Quetta Gladiators, Luke Ronchi posted 43 runs while others like captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Faheem Ashraf scored 20+ runs each to take the total to 134. However, it proved to be insufficient for the bowlers to defend despite a superb show by pacer Steve Finn, who took 3-35 in 4 overs. Mohammad Sami, Rumman Raees and spinner Shadab Khan tried to restrict the opposition but they lost the match by 6 wickets in the end.
Against debutants Multan Sultans, the bowling team was very effective as they stifled the opponents for 113 all-out thanks to a stupendous show by the pacers Rumman Raees and Mohammad Sami who took 5 wickets between them. All-rounder and fast-bowler Andre Russell also claimed 2 wickets and the batsmen easily chased down the target without a sweat. Hussain Talat scored an unbeaten 48 to steer the team across the finish line while Chadwick Walton scored 28 runs to help them win the match.
Islamabad United has won only one game so far and they are eager to make amends with a better performance in the upcoming match; if the batsmen can build a good foundation whether batting first or during chase, then surely the United can repeat the winning show from before.
Luke Ronchi, Sahibzada Farhan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Misbah-ul-Haq, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Andre Russell, Mohammad Sami, SR Patel.
Both teams have all-rounders as well as experienced specialists in the team who could give their side the edge to win; however, we feel that Lahore Qalandars with their superior spin attack are better placed to win here on Friday.