Lahore Qalandars in a race to the bottom of T20 cricket

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Lahore Qalandars have lost five out of five matches in this edition of the Pakistan Super League. They won three and lost five matches last year and won just two out of eight in the first edition. Needless to say, they finished dead last in the opening two editions of the PSL and might end up with the wooden spoon this time as well.

Unfortunately for the Qalandars, the knives are already out. Social media is littered with posts poking fun at their poor results. One disgruntled fan even put up the entire team up for sale on eBay this week, with a starting price of $1. The item description stated: “Looks like all the parts are there, but won’t run properly”.

“Only 3 years old, however it is out of warranty. Requires some love and attention to return to good working order. I have receipts for all of the parts,” the advertisement added.

While the ad was funny, it is no laughing matter for franchise owner Rana Fawad.

But the Qalandars are not alone. There are other T20 teams who have endured, or are enduring, similarly shocking results.

The St Lucia Zouks had a terrible start in the Caribbean Premier League, winning just four games out of 16 in the first two seasons finishing last and second last in the tournament in 2013 and 2014 respectively. They finished second last out of six teams in 2015.

The Delhi Daredevils, of late, are in similar territory in the Indian Premier League. They were the semi-finalists in the first two years – 2008 and 2009. Since 2013, the Daredevils lost their way completely finishing last, last, second last, third last and third last in the tournament.

In the Big Bash League, Sydney Thunder were simply awful in all but one season – 2015-16 when they won the title. Their record apart from that in the BBL reads last, last, last, second last, last and third last.

There’s nothing to suggest things will improve for the Qalandars. They might very well do. But until that happens, Lahore will have to wallow in self pity.

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With Shahid Afridi out injured, why Karachi Kings should be optimistic of PSL title chances

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After three wins in four matches (the other being abandoned), Karachi Kings got a taste of what a defeat felt like when they suffered an eight-wicket loss to 2016 winners Islamabad United on Sunday evening.

There was a notable absentee in Karachi line-up with top wicket-taker Shahid Afridi ruled out with a knee injury although reports suggest he could be back in time for the play-offs.

Afridi has proven to be a key player, particularly with the ball, taking six scalps and with his absence, it has led to former Pakistan captain Muhammad Yousuf expressing his concern that Karachi could struggle.

But it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom for Mickey Arthur’s side.

Here, we look at three reasons why Karachi Kings should still be a force over the next three weeks.

Eoin Morgan to boost batting line-up

Karachi Kings’ batting line-up is set to be bolstered by the arrival of Eoin Morgan. Karachi have been without their talismanic batsmen due to his commitments with England’s ODI side in New Zealand, but from Sunday, he will surely add more fire power to their attack.

No player has shone with the bat on a consistent basis for Karachi despite their three wins.

Ravi Bopara, Khurram Manzoor and Babar Azam have all hit one half-century each with Colin Ingram and Joe Denly contributing effectively.

But Morgan could well be that man that can take the game away from the opposition. He’s done it before and continues to show his class as illustrated by his unbeaten 80 from 46 deliveries in the T20 against New Zealand recently.

Form of Mohammad Amir, Imad Wasim and Tymal Mills

While Sunday’s margin of defeat suggested Shahid Afridi was badly missed, Karachi have enough quality within their bowlers to deal with his absence. There will be more responsibility falling on the shoulders of spinner and captain Imad Wasim to pick up the wickets. The 29-year-old has had three scalps so far and his last outing showed he has big boots to fill after going wicketless against Islamabad.

But Karachi are fortunate to have Mohammad Amir (four), English pacer Tymal Mills (five) and young Pakistani medium pacer Mohammad Irfan (five) who have been more successful this season. They have caused batsmen plenty of problems with their pace and swing and that should continue for the remainder of the tournament.

Mickey Arthur

A man who has been at the helm for the last two editions of the PSL, Arthur has shown constant improvements to a Karachi side that finished fourth in 2016. Twelve months later, the South African guided his side to a third-place finish – and this year after five matches, they sit top of the table with Multan Sultans with three wins. Although there’s a long way to go, Athur possesses all the skills and knowledge to guide them to a first title. You just have to look at how Pakistan bounced back from their opening thrashing to India to clinch the ICC Champions Trophy triumph last year.

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Imran Tahir hat-trick helps Multan Sultans thrash Quetta Gladiators by nine wickets

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Tahir picked up a hat-trick in Sharjah. Pic courtesy: @thePSLt20/Twitter.

Multan Sultans recorded a thumping nine-wicket victory over Quetta Gladiators for their third win in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Put into bat first after the Sultans skipper Shoaib Malik won the toss, the Gladiators were bundled out for just 102 in under 16 overs with only Shane Watson (19), Sarfraz Ahmed (30) and Mahmudullah (15) managing to get into double figures.

In reply, the Multan Sultans coasted to victory, losing only wicket in the process as Kumar Sangakkara remained unbeaten on 51.

Here are the key moments from Saturday’s clash at Sharjah.

TANVIR AND JUNAID ROCK QUETTA

After Mohammad Irfan and Sohail Tanvir started excellently with the ball, the pressure grew on Quetta’s openers. It eventually told when Umar Amin slashed Tanvir straight into the hands of third-man in the fourth over.

With the very first delivery of the next over, Junaid Khan bowled Rameez Raja Jr to reduce Quetta to 28-2. When Watson holed out in the deep while trying to pull Junaid, the top-order was back in the pavilion for not a lot.

TAHIR’S HAT-TRICK CLEANS UP THE TAIL

Quetta were 108-7 when leg-spinners Imran Tahir bowled the 16th over. The South African cleaned up Hasan Khan’s stumps with his second delivery and then did the same to John Hastings in the subsequent ball as the Australian failed to read the wrong-one.

The veteran leg-spinner went on his trademark celebratory run before returning to the crease for his hat-trick ball where Rahat Ali stood in front of him. Tahir pinned him on the crease with a skidder and went off on another exuberant celebratory run as the umpire raised his finger, resulting in the third hat-trick in PSL history.

HASAN KHAN TRIES HARD

Defending a paltry 102, the task for the Quetta Gladiators’ bowlers was difficult. They failed to find much joy though, as Multan batsmen played risk-free cricket.

Quetta’s only wicket came in the 11th over when Ahmed Shehzad ventured down the track to Hasan Khan but miscued his shot to long-on.

SANGAKKARA STEERS CHASE EXPERTLY

With big hits not required, Multan opener Sangakkara made full use of his experience to anchor the innings.

The elegant left-hander stuck to orthodox shots as he notched up an unbeaten half-century with the help of five crisp hits to the fence. The experienced batsman never gave a sniff of an opportunity to the Quetta bowlers.

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