KARACHI: Lahore Qalandars will aim to avoid another batting collapse when Sohail Akhtar-led side takes on arch-rivals and defending champions Karachi Kings in match number 27th of the Pakistan Super League, 2021 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
The game will be the second match of the double-header day at the PSL in Abu Dhabi and has a lot more than just cricket to offer.
Qalandars vs Kings, due to a traditional sporting rivalry between two cities they belong to, is usually termed as El-Clasico of the PSL.
Both sides are coming to this match after losing back to back matches and would like to bounce back and regain momentum before the next stage of the tournament.
Qalandars, after a good start in the Abu Dhabi leg of the tournament, have lost back to back games – against Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators while Karachi Kings have lost all three games.
Babar Azam-led Karachi Kings are currently placed at fifth in the PSL points table with three wins from five games. Today’s match is crucial for them and a defeat will surely dent their chances to proceed further in the tournament.
The Lahore Qalandars are currently at third place on the points table with five wins from eight games and are comparatively in a comfortable position as compared to Karachi Kings but Sohail Akhtar would want his batsmen not to repeat the mistakes that led to the side’s defeat in last two games.
They had a very good start in the Abu Dhabi leg of the tournament winning their first two games against Islamabad United and the Peshawar Zalmi respectively. But then, they lost two back to back matches that exposed the vulnerability of Qalandars’ middle-order batting.
Tim David is the only Lahore Qalandars batsman who has shown some consistency. Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez and captain Sohail Akhtar have been struggling to post big totals. The side needs to build partnerships if they want to be at best against Karachi Kings.
Nevertheless, with one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament, Qalandars will be hugely relying on the likes of James Faulkner, who has been on a rampage since the Abu Dhabi leg commenced. Along with Faulkner, Rashid Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi would surely pose a strong challenge to Karachi Kings.
The Karachi Kings, on the other hand, are heavily reliant on Babar Azam. In the previous game, the Pakistan captain was dismissed for a duck and the Kings could score only 108 against Zalmi. Even when Babar scored in the 80s the side couldn’t win the match, showing the fragileness of the side.
The defending champions are surely let down by the attack. Mohammad Amir hasn’t picked up a wicket in Abu Dhabi and has leaked runs frequently.
The Qalandars will also have this fact in their mind that they had defeated the Kings by six wickets during their earlier PSL 2021 meeting, in Karachi.
Players to watch:
James Faulkner, Rashid Khan (Lahore Qalandars)
Babar Azam, Martin Guptil (Karachi Kings)
Karachi Kings: Imad Wasim (c), Abbas Afridi, Amir Yamin, Arshad Iqbal, Babar Azam, Chadwick Walton, Danish Aziz, Martin Guptill, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Haris, Thisara Perera, Najeebullah Zadran, Noor Ahmed, Qasim Akram, Sharjeel Khan, Waqas Maqsood and Zeeshan Malik
Lahore Qalandars: Sohail Akhtar (c), Ahmed Danyal, Ben Dunk, Callum Ferguson, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, James Faulkner, Maaz Khan, Mohammad Faizan, Mohammad Hafeez, Rashid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Seekuge Prasanna, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sultan Ahmed, Tim David, Zaid Alam and Zeeshan Ashraf.