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|U Siddiq Khan||13||7||0||2||185.71|
We are down to the final leg of the Pakistan Premier League and we are likely to get an idea of how the final top-four are eventually going to look like after the next couple of games. Islamabad United confirmed their playoff spot with a win over Lahore Qalandars in their last match. Struggling with injuries, Lahore Qalandars will take on Multan Sultans in their upcoming encounter which is to be played at Karachi on 11th March. This will be the last match for both Qalandars and the Sultans in the tournament and while the Sultans are already out of the contention, the Qalandars are still in it with a chance which is more mathematical than pragmatic.
At one point in time, the Qalandars were well and truly in the hunt for the playoffs, but some poor performances coupled with injuries to their lead players has left them in a concerning position as far as qualification for the playoffs is concerned.
Their massive loss to Islamabad United pushed United into the top-four team and them closer to the exit door. With just one match to go, the matter is no longer in just their hands. Apart from registering a win against Sultans, they'd also need Karachi Kings to lose both their remaining matches and that too by such margins that Karachi's net run-rate is dragged down lower than theirs.
With AB de Villiers in the batting lineup, the Qalandars had a realistic chance of qualification this time around, but injuries to de Villiers and Hafeez threw Qalandars off-guard early in the season. Fakhar Zaman has done well for them with the bat, but in the absence of de Villiers and Hafeez, the Qalandars are definitely a little too over-reliant on him.
While their batting lineup has been plagued by injuries, their bowling had done well in the UAE leg of the competition. Their bowlers were smashed all around the park by Cameron Delport in the last match and will be looking to learn from their mistakes and produce a better performance. Sandeep Lamichhane has been the pick of the bowlers, nut just for the Qalandars, but also in the tournament. All in all, the Qalandars are a little too dependent on a couple of players and if they are able to produce the kind of performance expected from them, the Sultans will have their work cut out.
F Zaman, Sohail Akhtar, Haris Sohail, Asela Gunaratne, D Wiese, Saad Ali, Hassan Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Sandeep Lamichhane, Riki Wessels.
The change in ownership made no difference whatsoever to the final position of Sultans. After getting off to a terrific start last time around, it was astonishing to see them not finish in the top four. The only difference we have seen this time is that they've consistently found themselves in the bottom half.
The Sultans last played a match almost a week ago which they lost to Karachi Kings by five wickets. Batting first on a decent surface, the Sultans never looked in control and limped to 118 on a day where they needed a big effort to stay in the competition. Remarkably, they became the second only team in the history of Pakistan Super League to fail to hit a six in the entire innings.
Despite a poor show with the bat, their bowlers did produce a decent effort to drag the game till the last over where they eventually failed to hold their nerve. Mohammad Abbas and Mohammad Ilyas were the picks of the bowlers as they picked up five wickets at the expense of just 31 runs in the eight overs combined.
U Siddiq Khan, J Vince, Shan Masood, J Charles, Shoaib Malik, DT Christian, SMSK Afridi, Christopher Green, Mohammad Ilyas, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas.
With just two wins in nine matches, the Sultans have been a standout team in the tournament - not just in a way they or their fans would have liked. Having said that, Qalandars, too, haven't been too far behind them in terms of flocking away from the competition and producing subdued performances when the situation demanded more. The loss of AB de Villiers clearly had a heavy impact on Qalandars' prospects which was visible in their last match as well. Considering recent performances and teams on paper, the Lahore Qalandars are better placed to win the upcoming fixture.
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