Multan Sultans v Peshawar Zalmi
Thursday 23 June, 17:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Multan Sultans hauled themselves off from level-bottom (on run rate) to the final as the second-placed finishers in part two of the PSL. It is a fabulous effort and justice for a franchise hit hard by postponement in the previous edition.
In Abu Dhabi they have won five out of six. And they saved possibly their best performance for the qualifier against league leaders Islamabad United, who in the previous game had inflicted Sultans’ only defeat in this leg. Sultans smashed them, posting 180 and then bowling out their rivals for 140.
What has been particularly impressive is how they have been unaffected by Mohammad Rizwan’s collapse in form. If one would have known that he would return only one score of 50 or more most wouldn’t have given them a prayer. But Sohaib Maqsood has been in tremendous touch. He has 363 runs at a 150 strike rate.
The real trump card, though, is leading wicket-taker Shahnawaz Dhani. He has 20 wickets in ten games. Both Dhani and Sohaib should get interest from Pakistan.
Probable XI Masood, Rizwan, Maqsood, Rossouw, Charles, Kushdil, Tanvir, Tahir, Muzarabani, Imran Khan, Dhani,
Zalmi have guts
Whatever Multan can do in terms of pluck, Zalmi can match them. They battled hard to make it into the play-offs with an even-money record and have endured the loss of key overseas players.
There is no David Miller, Fabian Allen or Fidel Edwards to call on. They could also be without Mohammad Irfan, who suffered an injury in their ‘second eliminator’ success over Islamabad.
In that contest, Zalmi played electrifying cricket. They conceded 174 (their mean reputation in part one has gone up in smoke in part two) but their batting is fearless. They chased with ease. Hazaratullah Zazai top-batted again with 66 off 44 while they finally solved their issue at No 3 with Jono Wells making a debut fifty. Shoaib Malik was brilliant finishing off the chase with more than three overs to spare.
Possible XI Zazai, Kamran, Wells, Shoaib Malik, Usman, Rutherford, Powell, Wahab, Umaid, Asif, Irfan
The first-innings scores so far at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second) read: 174-2/175-2/180-1/149-2/176-1/169-1/176-1/183-1/108-2/190-2/166-2/197-1/133-2/170-1/176-1/143-2.
We have been saying for a while that if you post 170 or more you win the game. But United and Karachi (twice) have bucked that trend. It could be something specific to those teams which means we shouldn’t abandon faith in the score. Certainly in Karachi’s case they have been terribly profligate in the field.
No matter. The side batting first will target 8.5 an over. And that is good to know with Sportsbook going 11/10 that both teams score 160 or more.
Zalmi could defend
Sultans are 1.784/5 favourites with early money. We would expect Zalmi to settle at around the 2.15 mark when the market matures.
On the head-to-head it’s a win apiece in this edition, although Sultans’s win in Abu Dhabi is more relevant. Shahnawaz won Sultans that game with a four-wicket burst which blew a whole in Zalmi’s innings. They still managed 166, though.
If Zalmi get the opportunity to bat first they will no doubt take it and set course for that 170 mark. We would expect them to manage that and could well flip favouritism. That’s a decent trade strategy right there.
Rizwan has been boosted to 9/4 for top Sultans bat by Sportsbook but we checked out on him some time ago. Instead, Sohaib is underrated at 4/1.
For Zalmi, Zazai is boosted from 11/4 to 10/3. He has three wins in his four matches and three man of the match awards to boot. It rather feels like following the money by betting him and instead we favour Shoaib Malik in-play from 6/1.
Shahnawaz is finally a favourite for top Sultans bowler. Sportsbook go 5/2. We’ve rated him from early on but have just missed out on profits so we don’t need to play at reduced odds.