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The Multan Sultans consolidated their position at the top of the table with a win against Peshawar Zalmi in their last match. They have just lost one match out of their five completed matches but did lose another point due to a washout. Their opponents for this match will be the Quetta Gladiators who are having a terrible PSL 2018 so far. Three losses from five games and currently sitting second from the bottom, the Gladiators know that time is running out for them to be able to salvage this tournament.
Another sedate start by Ahmed Shahzad threatened to derail the Multan Sultans but they managed to recover thanks to some brilliant hitting Sohaib Maqsood. Ahmed Shehzad faced 37 deliveries at the top of the order and scored just 37 runs. That is a terrible return for someone playing the bulk of the bowling in the powerplay overs.
Sohaib Maqsood faced just five deliveries more than Shehzad but scored a whopping 85 runs with seven huge sixes. Even with an innings of such belligerence, the Multan Sultans managed to reach only 183, a good score but nothing that was not chaseable by the opposition.
We like the look of this Multan Sultans team. They have made a lot of very smart decisions but continuing to play Ahmed Shahzad at the top of the order or at-all is not one of them. Sangakkara got another start and extended his lead as the highest run scorer of the tournament so far.
With Sohaib Maqsood hitting form, Shoaib Malik, Darren Bravo, and Kieron Pollard to follow, this Multan Sultans team is certainly a formidable batting unit.
The last time the Multan Sultans played the Quetta Gladiators, their bowlers made it into a no-contest. Imran Tahir, Junaid Khan, and Mohammad Irfan ran through the Gladiators batting to bowl them out for 102.
It is difficult to see the same thing happening again but the Multan Sultans bowling unit will carry a lot of confidence of that last win. How the bowlers plan to subdue the dangerous Shane Watson could determine the direction this match will go in.
The Multan Sultans have a very well balanced team that has both its bowlers and batsmen in good form. There is no other team, save for perhaps Karachi Kings, that has its combinations as well settled. It is going to be difficult for teams to overcome them.
Ahmed Shehzad, Kumar Sangakkara, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard, Ross Whiteley, S Badar, S Tanvir, Imran Tahir, U Gul, Mohammad Irfan.
This will be the second consecutive match that the Quetta Gladiators play against the Multan Sultans. The Gladiators are in a tough spot in the competition and will definitely want to forget what happened in the last match.
For Quetta to do will, its batsmen must find some way to break the shackles. Apart from Shane Watson, there has been no other player in their lineup who has looked like taking the game to the opposition. We would love to see the Quetta Gladiators take a leaf from Islamabad United’s book and open with both their leading overseas batsmen.
This would mean that Rossouw and Watson have the chance to make the most of the powerplay overs and set the tone for the entire inning. Mahmudullah would have left for national duty and that is another important position in the middle order that has to be replaced.
The time for local Pakistani batsmen like Umar Amin, Rameez Raja, and Sarfaraz Ahmed to turn up is now. Currently, the reliance of Quetta’s success on Shane Watson is a little too much for our liking. Shane Watson has been in good form but he is also nearer to the end of his career and to expect him to carry teams for the entire tournament may be a little too much to hope for.
The problems for Quetta don’t just end with their batting. They have picked John Hastings as their leading overseas bowler but he has been extremely disappointing so far. Hastings tends to bowl length and his change of pace is quite predictable.
Shane Watson, Rahat Ali, and the two spinners have had to pick a lot of the slack along with some overs from the part-timers. There is no doubt that Mohammad Nawaz and Hasan Khan are extremely talented and will be seen for Pakistan in the future but they are not the finished product yet.
With a bowling attack that looks undercooked and a faltering batting, Quetta needs some individual brilliance to inspire it. This could, otherwise, prove to be the worst PSL season that Quetta ever has.
SR Watson, Asad Shafiq, KP Pietersen, Ramiz Raja, RR Rossouw, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Hassan Khan, A Ali, Ben Laughlin, Rahat Ali.
The pitch at the Dubai International Stadium has been pleasantly surprising. The amount of bounce and carry to the bowlers has allowed good strokeplay as well as the opportunity for wickets to be taken. We have seen balanced wickets so far where all facets of the game are in play and we expect nothing different this time around.
The weather has been predicted to be sunny without any chance of rain.
The Multan Sultans are easily the stronger team of the two. They have more depth in the batting and have a better bowling attack. Current form also points to the Multan Sultans as the likely winners.
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