Having started their PSL campaign with a fine victory over Lahore Qalandars, Islamabad were handed a five-wicket defeat by Multan Sultans on Saturday.
With games rolling in thick and fast in the fourth edition of the PSL, there will be no time for Mohammad Sami’s men to reflect on their defeat as they get ready to play their third match in just four days at Dubai on Sunday.
While their batting was highly impressive in the tournament opener against Lahore, it failed as a unit against Multan in a low-scoring affair. Last season’s top run-getter Luke Ronchi has carried off from where he left off with two superb innings so far but the two other overseas recruits in Cameron Delport and Philip Salt have failed to really get going.
What Islamabad have going for them is their deep batting-order with capable batsmen all the way down to number nine although their performance on Saturday did not do justice in that regard.
Sami’s men will be hoping that Saturday’s loss was just a minor blip and the form of Shadab Khan with the ball will give the Islamabad skipper plenty of confidence. The star leg-spinner was among the wickets against Multan with two scalps and was economical as well with his four overs costing just 20 runs.
Quetta Gladiators, on the other hand, started off their PSL campaign with a comfortable six-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi on Friday and will have the advantage of an extra day’s rest when they face Islamabad.
Umar Akmal was the start of Quetta’s win over Peshawar with the former Pakistan international striking a fluent unbeaten 75 (50) to guide his team across the finish line. The younger Akmal sibling could be the game-changer for Quetta going forward if he can keep up that impressive form.
However, skipper Sarfraz Ahmed will demand a lot more from openers Ahmed Shehzad and Shane Watson with the former falling for a golden duck in Friday’s win while the latter was scratchy in his brief innings of 19.
The bowling looked good in the campaign opener with Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Irfan impressing while youngster Ghulam Mudassar also gave a terrific account of himself.
The one worry for Sarfraz though, would be whether to stick with leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed with the Australian proving expensive against Peshawar.
Islamabad United do not have any injury concerns as of now but playing three matches in four days could take its toll on the players and it would not be surprising to see Sami make a couple of changes in the playing XI.
Quetta, meanwhile, will once again have to do without the services of their star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo who remains away on Big Bash League duty with the Melbourne Stars.
Islamabad United: Luke Ronchi (wk), Rizwan Hussain, Cameron Delport, Hussain Talat, Philip Salt, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Samit Patel, Mohammad Sami, Waqas Mahmood.
Quetta Gladiators: Ahmed Shehzad, Shane Watson, Rilee Rossouw, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Dwayne Smith, Mohammad Nawaz, Ghulam Mudassar, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan, Fawad Ahmed
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