Sultans could lay down a marker

Islamabad United v Multan Sultans
Saturday 19 June, 19:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

United must keep going

Islamabad cannot be caught at top spot in the group. It means that they will get two bites at the cherry to make it to the final.

Since defeat by Lahore Qalandars in their first game of part two they have been unstoppable, winning four straight matches. Their batting power has been eye-catching.

Ordinarily we might look down on a team which has shown only batting muscle. But not in the PSL, a tournament choc-full of fabulous bowlers. You can’t really dismiss this lot as one-trick ponies, even if they went round the park against Zalmi and Karachi in their last two.

What we will criticise them for is if they play fast and loose with momentum. Pick your best team. Don’t give fringe players a workout. We’ve seen before what happens to franchises who muck about with their position secure.

Possible XI Khawaja, Munro, King, Talat, Iftikhar, Asif, Akhlaq, Hasan, Gofar, Ahmed, Akif

Sultans surge

Multan Sultans hammered Lahore Qalandars late on Friday night to almost guarantee second spot in the standings. Their run rate is so superior to Karachi Kings that they would have to suffer a severe beating in this game – and Kings to do likewise to Quetta – to miss out.

With four straight wins in Abu Dhabi that doesn’t seem very likely. They may be guilty of a little complacency in a game which is meaningless but they’ve got enough about them to avoid embarrassment.

The 80-run success over Qalandars was impressive, although what has gone on in the LQ dressing room is anyone’s guess. They have completed imploded. Shahnawaz Dhani, the top wicket-taker in the tournament, claimed four for five, which sounds like the old Scottish football score gag. Incredible.

So strong have Multan been that Shimron Hetmyer’s departure has been barely noticed. Johnson Charles slots in perfectly.

Possible XI Masood, Rizwan, S Maqsood, Charles, Rossouw, Kushdil, Tanvir, Tahir, Muzarabani, Imran Khan.

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: 169-1/176-1/183-1/108-2/190-2/166-2/197-1/133-2/170-1/176-1/143-2. Five out of six teams who have busted 170 have gone on to win. We also note that Lahore couldn’t chase the 170 required versus Sultans.

Sportsbook go a boosted 6/4 that both teams score 170 or more. In Abu Dhabi Multan’s average run rate (bat first or second) is clearing that comfortably while Islamabad would probably be disappointed with a rate of nine an over. More than 340 total match runs is coming in at 2/1. It looks another fair bet.

Sultans value

An early show has Islamabad priced at 1.774/5. If that is the way the market takes shape, then we’ll be getting involved with Sultans in that 2.255/4 region thank you very much.

This could well be the first of three head-to-heads in a few days so at the risk of view which may well need to be repeated, we suspect Multan are unfairly underrated. They might just have a bit more nous with the ball and the way United are now packing their batting, they could come unstuck if a sixth bowler is required.

Tops value

Lots going on in the tops market. Usman Khawaja, who smashed a ton against Zalmi, is 13/5 jolly for top United bat. Colin Munro is 11/4. Muhammad Akhlaq, who has batted at No 3, is a wrong price at 7s. Asif Ali was only promoted versus Zalmi because of a rollicking start.

For Sultans, Rizwan is again boosted to 13/5 and we’re going to have to bite. The 4/1 poke Sohaib Maqsood is in great nick and a strong finish could get him into the Pakistan team. Finally, Dhani is criminally underrated at 10/3 for top Sultans bowler. He should be favourite with an insane strike rate of 9.7.

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