Dismal Kings in the mire



Karachi Kings v Lahore Qalandars
Friday 17 June, 17:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Holders struggling

Karachi, the holders, are having a disastrous time of it since re-start. They have lost three on the spin. This allied with Multan Sultans’ three straight wins means they are in grave danger of not qualifying for the play-offs.

We are not surprised. They looked a solid lay on the outright after making a mess of their recruitment, failing to adequately replace the entire middle-order that they lost due to the Covid postponement. Martin Guptill, for example, has been a disaster at No 3.

They are getting worse, too. Against Peshawar Zalmi the batting flopped spectacularly and posted only 108. A reliably-wasteful bowling attack had little hope of recovering the situation and they were beaten with 54 balls to spare. In a desperate move don’t be surprised if Guptill now slots in as opener with Babar Azam batting at No 3.

Possible XI Sharjeel Guptill, Babar, Walton, Zadran, Imad, Yamin, Abbas Afridi, Waqas, Amir, Noor.

Holders struggling

Anything Karachi can do, Lahore can match seemingly. The Qalandars began part two in decent fettle, recording victories over Islamabad and Peshawar. They have since hit a wall.

Lahore were cruising into the trop two and were skinny tournament favourites. Defeats by Islamabad and Quetta Gladiators of all teams have damaged faith. The manner of those losses, too, were alarming. They managed only 124 in a chase of 152 against United. They repeated the trick against Quetta, managing only 140 going after 158.

Ordinarily we wouldn’t be too concerned about a batting flop in franchise cricket. But the PSL is different because individual bowling talent is so high that there is a greater premium placed on teams who can be reliable. Their homegrown players – Fakhar Zaman, Sohail Akhtar and Mohammad Hafeez – have just not delivered.

Possible XI Fakhar, Sohail, Zeeshan, Hafeez, Dunk, David, Rashid Khan, Faulkner, Afridi, Rauf, Daniyal

Pitch report

The first-innings scores so far at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second) read: 183-1/108-2/190-2/166-2/197-1/133-2/170-1/176-1/143-2. A trend is hard to discern but there is a slight hint that more than 170 is the magic number, save for Karachi’s profligate bowlers failing to defend 190. That stat, of course, is relevant here.

We have a slick pitch, one strong batting line-up (Karachi), one weak and one strong bowling line-up (Lahore) and so on. That makes first-innings runs a bit of a guessing game but a low-risk bet might be laying 120, 130 or 140 or more if a shaky Karachi have to bat first.

Lahore could hit back

An early show has Lahore primed to go off as skinny favourites. They are 1.774/5 currently. We would be surprised that when more money becomes available this isn’t a choice affair.

As per our discussion on innings runs, we’re inclined to believe that Lahore deserve a little more faith. After all, James Faulkner and Rashid Khan have been potent and mean respectively. That is a tough combination for Karachi.

If we do get a choice affair, then we’d be happy to have a small interest in the Qalandars to hit back. Place an order for 1.9520/21.

Tops value

Babar has been boosted to 9/5 by Betfair Sportsbook for top Karachi bat. That would normally be a risk but it could prove canny with that opening switched we talked about.

There is a significant rick on top bowler for Lahore, though. Faulkner is no way near a 4/1 shot. He has won twice in three. We will swerve Hafeez for top bat at 4/1 as the edge on win rate has gone.

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