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Islamabad United has continued to go from strength to strength in this tournament. A win in this match will give them the top spot in the league standings. Their opponents, the Multan Sultans, could also move to the top spot with a win but would have played two games more than everyone else. A loss for the Multan Sultans in their last league game will actually leave them vulnerable to possibly being overtaken by Peshawar Zalmi. That eventuality would probably see them miss out on a semi-final berth.
The Multan Sultans will play their last league game against Islamabad United. Their last match was a comprehensive thrashing at the hands of the Karachi Kings and they will definitely want a better performance this time around.
Kumar Sangakkara is the second highest run-scorer in the tournament right now with 268 runs to his name. He has been the lynchpin of the Multan Sultans batting but cannot be expected to win matches on his own every time. Shoaib Malik has fallen away as the tournament has progressed while Sohaib Maqsood is just too inconsistent to be relied upon.
We are all waiting for that one inning from Kieron Pollard that will justify the reputation he commands but there is no indication of when it might come. And let us not get started on Ahmed Shehzad. Why would any team continue to play him at the top of the order when he eats up too many balls and does not score enough runs?
Sohail Tanvir seems like a good bet to try as a pinch hitter at the top of the order. As things stand, the Multan Sultans are struggling with their batting order. Recent evidence suggests that they will need plenty of runs against Islamabad United.
We are a lot more positive about the bowling attack for the Multan Sultans. Imran Tahir is the leading wick taker in the league while Mohammad Irfan is one of the most economical. Hardus Viljoen and Junaid Khan did not have a great time in the last match but they can be counted upon to bounce back strongly.
If Multan can get through the Islamabad top-order then they may be able to expose a relatively soft underbelly.
Ahmed Shehzad, Kumar Sangakkara, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard, S Badar, S Tanvir, Imran Tahir, Mohammad Irfan, Ross Whiteley, U Gul.
JP Duminy and Luke Ronchi are having the Pakistan Super League season of their dreams. Both the players have been prolific at the top of the order and are setting up wins with consistency. We, looking at their team from a betting perspective, don’t like the fact that they are so top-heavy but the results have been exceptional.
Is there anything to suggest that JP Duminy and Luke Ronchi will be able to sustain this pace throughout? No, but there is nothing to suggest they will not either. At this point in time, we have to respect their winning momentum.
Islamabad United will also be able to avail the services of Sam Billings to beef up their middle order from this match on. One of either Samit Patel or Steven Finn could find their head on the chopping block of Islamabad United decides to go that way.
Past record suggests that Duminy is much more likely to be able to continue his run-scoring spree than Ronchi and that is the way we are leaning as well. Useful contributions from Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, and cameos from Faheem Ashraf have helped Islamabad United outscore their opponents with ease.
The Islamabad bowling attack has been coming together pretty nicely over their last few matches as well. Mohammad Sami continues to pick wickets but can be expensive, Samit Patel picked 4 wickets in the last game, Finn is economical on most days, and Shadab Khan is finding his rhythm as well.
With Faheem Ashraf and Zafar Gohar also doing well, currently, this Islamabad lineup does not have too many things to worry about. We think the temptation for Islamabad United would be to continue with the same unchanged team but beefing up their middle order should be a priority. They do not want to be in a crunch match and lose their openers cheaply without having adequate backup.
Jean-Paul Duminy, Amad Butt, Luke Ronchi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, AD Hales, Mohammad Sami, SR Patel.
The last round of league matches before the knockouts will be played in Sharjah. The first set of matches at the venue was characterized by a slow pitch, low bounce, and some extremely short boundaries. A similar sort of pitch is expected for this match, although we hope to see some more bounce to start off with. The weather is expected to be sunny with no chance of rain.
Islamabad United the first match between the two teams earlier this season with ease. In their current form, they should be able to defeat the Multan Sultans again.