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PSL 2018 is entering the business end of the tournament when teams start calculating what they need to do to qualify. The absolute decimation of the Lahore Qalandars has left five teams fighting for four spots. Both, Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United are among the contenders and would want to win this match to cement their position further.
Three losses and three wins from their six matches have left Peshawar Zalmi at 5th in the league standings at the moment. There is still no time to panic though because they are just a win away from the lead group. What they don’t want is to lose another match and start falling behind the leaders significantly.
This makes winning very important for Peshawar.
To make that win happen, Peshawar Zalmi will have to work on plenty of things. Their bowling is going to be up against one of the in-form batsman in the league right now. Their own bowlers were smashed all over the park by Sohaib Maqsood in the last match and will be low on confidence.
Liam Dawson has been very impressive in the Pakistan Super League this season and continued his good form. His four overs went for just 17 runs and included a maiden as well. He is probably the best bowler in the Zalmi unit right now.
We felt that Wahab Riaz was introduced a little late in the game and maybe that is something the management can look at going forward. Wahab needs to pick wickets because he is certainly not someone that will hold the runs down.
The dependence of the Peshawar Zalmi batting on Dwayne Smith is also quite troubling. Smith is the second highest scorer for the team after Mohammad Hafeez but his impact on the game is far greater. Smith has hit the most sixes in this tournament for Zalmi, has an excellent strike rate, and puts Peshawar Zalmi in a winning position whenever he spends some time at the crease.
Peshawar needs Darren Sammy back in the lower middle order to provide a boost but it is unclear if he will be available for this match. The current state of the Peshawar Zalmi team is a little chaotic with some brilliant individual performances not translating to sustain team success. If more of their players can perform at the same time then they will quickly rise towards the top of the league table.
Kamran Akmal, ADS Fletcher , DR Smith, Mohammad Hafeez, DJG Sammy, LA Dawson, Khushdil Shah, Hasan Ali, Ibtisam Sheikh, Wahab Riaz, Umaid Asif.
Islamabad kept its winning streak intact as they chased down a par total by Lahore Qalandars in their last match with ease. The runs came from the bat of Luke Ronchi who equaled the fastest fifty hit in a PSL match with some useful contributions from JP Duminy, Shadab Khan, and Misbah-ul-Haq to finish things off.
Islamabad’s batting has emerged as a dangerous weapon which it will rely on to win this match against Peshawar as well. We are, however, not quite convinced. Luke Ronchi is going through an excellent patch right now but history shows that he is not someone who scores runs consistently.
As and when his high-risk approach starts to fail, Islamabad will need to find some new performers from within their ranks. Duminy is an excellent choice to bat at the top of the order and someone who we would base our batting plans around.
After the top-2 batsmen though there is a lack of quality. Misbah is far from the force he once was, Shadab Khan played a good cameo but asking him to do that everytime is not realistic, and the other Pakistani youngsters still need to prove themselves.
A look back at some of the earlier matches in the tournament will show that Islamabad United struggled when they lost early wickets and had to depend on players like Faheem Ashraf and Hussain Talat to bail them out.
Islamabad’s bowling is also not the strongest in this tournament. Mohammad Sami has been good and currently has 9 wickets to his name while Shadab Khan was brilliant in the last game he played. Apart from these two, though, Steven Finn has been inconsistent, Faheem Ashraf has been expensive, and Samit Patel ineffective.
The loss of Andre Russell will hit them hard.
Taking all things into account, we do not think that Islamabad will be able to sustain its current success and definitely think this is the right time to short them.
Jean-Paul Duminy, Luke Ronchi, Asif Ali, Misbah-ul-Haq, Hussain Talat, SR Patel, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Zafar Gohar, Mohammad Sami, ST Finn.
Dubai has provided a very good pitch for T20 cricket so far. It is completely flat and offers decent bounce to keep the batsmen interested. The boundaries are also small and thus inviting to the big-hitters. Sunny weather without a cloud in sight has been forecast for match day in Dubai.
Peshawar Zalmi won the first encounter these two sides this season. Over the last five matches, though, Islamabad United has been able to register three victories. There is no doubt that current momentum is with Islamabad United and they will go in as the favorites. We, however, recommend betting against them in this match.