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After a string of victories, Multan Sultans lost the match against Quetta Gladiators by 2 wickets in a thrilling contest; however, they continue to stand in the first place with 9 points and a superior run rate. The Sultans will take on Lahore Qalandars, who are placed at the bottom of the table with zero points, at Dubai on 9th March for the 20th match of the series. Lahore Qalandars continue their downward slope, failing to convert their good efforts to wins and are looking desperately for some hope here; it needs to be seen if they can make a comeback from here to keep their campaign alive.
Batting first against Gladiators, batsmen Sangakkara and Ahmed Shehzad failed to build a partnership and were out in the first ball of the match and middle of the second over respectively. Captain Shoaib Malik then took charge as he posted 65 off 43; with help from Shoaib Maqsood, Whiteley, Sohail Tanvir and Pollard, he built 152 runs total. The total looked defendable as pacer Umar Gul took an astonishing 6-24 to stifle the Gladiators but as others gave away easy runs, they lost the match by 2 wickets with just 1 ball remaining.
Against Zalmi, they posted a challenging 183 runs batting first thanks to Maqsood’s unbeaten 85 off 42; he got good support from openers Sangakkara and Ahmed Shehad, who scored 28 and 37 runs respectively. Speedsters Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir and Pollard took regular wickets with the latter two making 3 dismissals each and helped win the match by a handsome 19 runs.
Although the recent defeat could have hurt their morale, they have enough resources to bounce back with a win on Friday.
Kumar Sangakkara, Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Ross Whiteley, Kieron Pollard, S Badar, S Tanvir, Imran Tahir, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan.
They suffered a humiliating loss against Zalmi recently as they were all-out for 100 batting first and then failed to take a single wicket in the second innings. Fakhar Zaman top-scored with 30 while hard-hitters like McCullum, Umar Akmal and Ramdin failed to impress with the bat. The entire batting line-up was wipes away in 17 overs, and then the opponents reached the target without a sweat as the bowlers proved to be ineffective. They have players like Sunil Narine, Yasir Shah, Sohail Khan and Mustafizur Rahman, who are in good form, but they hardly had enough to fight with here.
When they met Multan Sultans previously, the batsmen succumbed under pressure while chasing a target of 180 runs; Fakhar Zaman top-scored with 49 while Umar Akmal and Narine pitched in with 31 and 26 runs respectively. However, with experienced players like McCullum, Cameron Delport and youngster Aamer Yamin failing to shine, they lost the match by 43 runs.
Earlier, Bangladeshi fast-bower Mustafizur Rahman put up an economical show taking 2-22 while spinner Yasir Shah dismissed one opponent, but others couldn’t stop the opponents from piling up the runs.
The Qalandars have failed miserably till now, being unable to do well with the bat. They must pull up their socks and do better all-round if they want to keep their hopes alive.
F Zaman, Anton Devcich, Agha Salman, Gulraiz Sadaf, Brendon McCullum, Sohail Akhtar, SP Narine, Sohail Khan, MJ Mcclenaghan, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi.
Having won before against Qalandars, the Sultans have the psychological advantage. Although the contest could be well fought by both sides, we feel that Multan Sultans are clear favourites to win.