The ever-present threat of Covid-19 can screw up any team’s ambitions at the slightest indiscretion, and although Islamabad United were able to beat the Quetta Gladiators, they will surely struggle with a few of their overseas regulars missing. Level on points with Lahore Qalandars - their next opponents - the two-time champions will have to find a way to outfox them in the next encounter. In the other camp, the Qalandars have bounced back from a defeat to be tied for first place once again. With the Peshawar Zalmi losing against the Karachi Kings, it’s a dead heat at the top with net run rate being the divisive factor. However, both these teams have a game in hand over the two above them, and either would be thrilled to take the uncontested lead with a win. Before the two teams duke it out on the field, let’s see how they measure up on paper.
Predicted XI vs Lahore Qalandars
Shadab Khan (c), Alex Hales, Rohail Nazir (wk), Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Paul Stirling, Mohammad Wasim, Muhammad Musa.
Preview and form
It’s not easy to lose important players from your squad in the middle of the season, and United had already lost Chris Gayle to international duty before being hit by this latest calamity. While Gayle has Faf du Plessis replacing him, United do not have substitutes for those currently quarantined/isolated. In their last match, they bowled first against the Gladiators. Faheem Ashraf had an incredible performance that saw him take 3 wickets in 4 overs while conceding just 11 runs, and Hasan Ali supported him well with 2 for 23 off his own 4 to tie the Gladiators down to a subpar (on this pitch) 156. Despite lacking firepower, United had everything they needed. Paul Stirling’s 56 off 33, Rohail Nazir’s 34 off 28, and quick cameos by Alex Hales Shadab Khan were enough to see them win by 6 wickets with 3 overs to spare.
Islamabad United key players vs Lahore Qalandars
Paul Stirling: After tasting T20 success for Islamabad, Stirling won’t want to quit.
Rohail Nazir: In lieu of the faltering Phil Salt, Rohail has shown that he’s not a bad option, and this will be his chance to seal that opportunity.
Faheem Ashraf: Faheem has plenty of talent, and he showed just one glimpse of it in the last match.
Hasan Ali: Faheem may have overshadowed him in one game, but Hasan has been consistently good this season.
Predicted XI vs Islamabad United
Sohail Akhtar (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Samit Patel, Ben Dunk (wk), David Wiese, Haris Rauf, Zeeshan Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Ahmed Daniyal, Joe Denly.
Preview and form
The good news for the Qalandars is that their squad is Covid free and they’re 4 points clear of their nearest competitor for the playoff spots. The bad news is that they have the worst net run rate out of the four teams that currently have 6 points. In their last match, they bowled first against the Karachi Kings in a long-awaited grudge match of sorts. Shaheen Shah Afridi starred with 3 wickets to his name, with four others taking a wicket each. With the aid of two well-timed run outs, they were able to prevent their opponents from making more than 186. Although they lost two wickets in the very first over of the chase without the scores even being disturbed, Fakhar Zaman took the reins and lashed away at the bowlers, scoring a brilliant 83 from 54. This was accompanied by Ben Dunk’s steady 57 off 43, and the icing on the cake was laid by David Wiese with a brutal 31 off just 9. WIth 4 balls to go, the Qalandars won by 6 wickets.
Lahore Qalandars key players vs Islamabad United
Mohammad Hafeez: The Professor may have missed out on a big knock in the last match, but he doesn’t stay behind for long.
Ben Dunk: Dunk cracked a 50 in the last match after a long time, and he’ll no doubt want to rack up some more.
Shaheen Shah Afridi: The young fast bowler is talented beyond his years.
Haris Rauf: Just as dangerous as his brother in arms, Haris will come in full throttle.
Islamabad United vs Lahore Qalandars pitch report and weather conditions
That’s 13 chases out of 13 that have been successful now at this year’s PSL, which just has to be some sort of a record. In any case, the pitch favours fast bowlers and batsmen, and if you’re batting first on it, you’d better say a quick prayer - or just pray throughout the match.
Although there’s a very small chance for some precipitation, every other factor will be super conducive for cricket - pleasant temperatures, average humidity, and a soft, cool breeze.
Can United show that local talents are no less potent than their foreign counterparts? Or will the Qalandars just outclass their opponents regardless? Find out if our Islamabad United versus Lahore Qalandars predictions come true on Thursday!
|IU Top Batsman:|
|LQ Top Batsman:|
|IU Top Bowler (Wickets):|
|LQ Top Bowler (Wickets):|
|Players to score a fifty:|
|R Nazir/P Stirling (IU), M Hafeez/B Dunk (LQ)|