Lahore Qalandars will meet the best team of the tournament Multan Sultans in a do-or-die contest in the first of two matches that are to be played on Friday at Dubai. While Islamabad and Peshawar will lock horns for a run away victory for a position in playoffs position.
Lahore have been the top flops of the first two editions as they finished last and their fortunes did not change in this year’s PSL as they have lost all their six matches.
It will be a disaster for their management as they are one of the most active franchises but their on-paper strong team has proved vulnerable on the field.
Lahore lost to Islamabad on Thursday as they had no answer to the power hitting of Luke Ronchi who scored 77 runs off 41 deliveries studded with six sixes and five boundaries, failing to defend a good 164-run target.
Multan has been on a swing as they beat Peshawar by 19 runs and lost to Quetta by a narrow two-wicket margin since the event came back to Dubai. A win over Lahore will ensure Multan a place in the last four.
Multan had demolished Lahore by 43 runs in the first round match after their opponents lost their last seven wickets for just seven runs off 15 balls from a strong position of 132-3 while chasing 180.
Lahore dropped mis-firing Umar Akmal from the last match, which looked more of a disciplinary decision than a cricketing one. If they need firepower they will have to take one last chance on the capable yet disappointing middle-order batsman.
Multan Sultans is sweating on the fitness of Junaid Khan who was rested and replaced by Umar Gul. Gul took the career-best 6-24 against Quetta in a losing cause and will again be in the eleven for Lahore match.
In the second match of the day Islamabad United will hope to carry their momentum on the fifth-placed Peshawar Zalmi while the title holders will seek two points in order to get into contention for the last four.
Peshawar was hurt by the absence of their Bangladeshi trio of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan (ruled out of PSL with injury) and Sabbir Rahman. Moreover, they have missed their flamboyant captain Darren Sammy in the last two games, where Mohammad Hafeez was the stand-in captain.
Zalmi will be hoping to see their returning pacer, Hasan Ali to fire some thunderbolts and do the trick for the Men in Yellow that he has been doing for Pakistan since making his debut.
On the other hand, despite missing their star all-rounder Andre Russell, Islamabad United is looking in red-hot form with two emphatic wins under their belt against Lahore Qalandars and Karachi Kings. Their top-order has clicked just at the right time and Luke Ronchi seems impossible to stop.
Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi will have a cracker of a contest with quality bowling and aggressive batting at both the ends.