Multan Sultans v Peshawar Zalmi: Imam underrated for tops



Peshawar Zalmi v Multan Sultans
Tuesday 24 February 14.00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Zalmi fight

Zalmi got off to a losing start against the well-fancied Lahore Qalandars. But it wasn’t all bad news. They showed gumption and fight to come back from a slow start caused by a clatter of wickets.

On a historically tricky Karachi wicket, a first-innings score of 140 against the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Rashid Khan was far from a disgrace. And their bowlers stuck to their task, claiming six wickets but running out of wiggle room.

Ravi Bopara biffed a 50 and Saqib Mahmood was potent with the ball. There was no room for David Miller, which was the right call considering Shoaib Malik’s guiding hands, instead opting for Sherfane Rutherford’s all-round skills.

Possible XI Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Haider Ali, Bopara, Rutherford, Butt, Wahab, Mujeeb, Saqib, Imran

Sultans sulk

Multan must still be scratching their heads as to how they did not open their tournament with a win. They had the points in the bag against Islamabad United, only to discover it had a gaping hole in it.

After positing a decent 150, they were in total control at 74 for six. Lewis Gregory and Faheem Ashraf’s bats cut a swathe through the lining, going on such a hitting spree that United won with an over to spare. They still needed 34 off the final three. Muhammad Umar and Sohail Tanvir came in for particular stick.

Defeat checked Mohammad Rizwan’s confidence. The wicketkeeper-batsman has barely put a foot wrong this year but there will be worries that his tactics were found wanting. Perhaps it can be dismissed as a blip. One of those days when the swings for the hills come off. There’s nowt wrong with Multan’s balance. In time they will find room for one of Imran Tahir and Qais Ahmed, too.

Possible XI Rizwan, Lynn, Vince, Rossouw, Maqsood, Kushdil, Brathwaite, Afridi, Tanvir, Umar, Sohail Khan

Pitch report

Before the start of this tournament, eight of the last 10 PSL matches at the Karachi National Stadium had been won by the chaser. The first two games this term have followed the trend – Karachi winning by seven wickets and Lahore by four. Multan let the side down when failing to defend in the second of the double header on Sunday.

Still, more than 160 has now been busted only four times in the last 15 matches. Laying 160 or more is unlikely to be an option, though, at even money because the market is wise. We are keeping an eye on chunky prices in the last two-three overs of the first dig, reckoning it could pay to go huge with 30 or more coming.

Sultans stronger

Multan were 1.705/7 and Zalmi 2.206/5 for their semi-final clash before the tournament was postponed due to Covid last March. We would expect similar prices again – save for the Sultans having the benefit of batting first.

Sportsbook are currently 5/6 pre-toss about the Sultans. If we could get that sort of number in-play we’d be very happy. We have them down as significant title challengers and the drift to 11/2 in the outright after their opening defeat is solid.

Tops value

Sportsbook have Haider Ali as favourite for top Zalmi bat at 13/5. That’s perfectly acceptable – if he were opening. But he batted at number four in the loss to Lahore. Instead Imam-ul-Haq opened alongside Kamran Akmal. Imam, a classy strokemaker, is not too shabby at all at 4/1. He should be shorter. Akmal is 3/1. For Multan Rizwan is 11/4. We’d like to chance Khushdil Shah at 15/2 but fear he is horribly out of form.

**

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