With Quetta Gladiators emerging as the team to beat after the early stages of the 2019 Pakistan Super League (PSL), Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans will look to get their campaigns back on track when they clash in Sharjah on Friday.
Both teams find themselves in the same boat after playing three matches each with just one win on board. It is the Qalandars who are worse off though heading into the clash with their abysmal net run-rate leaving them at the bottom of the league table.
Having started their campaign with a close defeat to Islamabad United, Qalandars bounced back with an impressive win against Karachi Kings before being decimated by Peshawar Zalmi.
They were bowled out for just 78 by Peshawar and have lost the services of skipper Mohammad Hafeez for the remainder of the tournament due to a finger injury. AB de Villiers has been handed the reins and the South African has his task cut out in trying to revive Lahore’s floundering campaign and score some runs himself.
ABD is yet to dazzle the PSL since his arrival with a high score of just 24 so far and he will need to lead from the front if Lahore are to avoid a fourth consecutive bottom-place finish. Fortunately for the Qalandars, they have Sandeep Lamichhane back in the fray after the Nepal leg-spinner returned from his Big Bash League commitments and he will certainly bolster their bowling unit.
.@lahoreqalandars include @im_SalmanButt in their squad to replace the injured @MHafeez22 for remainder of @thePSLt20 season— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 19, 2019
'It is there for the selectors and @TheRealPCB to see and to select me' - Salman Butt
Full interview 👉 https://t.co/tTyJJUd8uu#PSL2019 #CricketForAll pic.twitter.com/pg1zqaI4OB
Lamichhane is not the only BBL contracted stars to return with Multan also welcoming back Australia all-rounder Dan Christian in their most recent clash. The veteran T20 stalwart was able to score only a 19-ball 18 in his first 2019 PSL outing but much more will be expected of him going forward.
Multan’s narrow seven-run loss to Karachi Kings was offset by an impressive win against defending champions Islamabad United but a comprehensive eight-wicket loss to Quetta has derailed the momentum generated by Shoaib Malik and his men.
While the side is littered with all-rounders including veteran Shahid Afridi, star man Andre Russell has yet to find his best. Bar one entertaining cameo against Islamabad, the West Indies all-rounder has been mostly subdued and extracting the most out of his talents will be key for Multan.
England batsman James Vince looked good in his short stay against Quetta while Malik is in excellent form after registering two half-centuries. What Multan will desperately want in the clash against Lahore is for their top-order to fire and set up an excellent base for big hitters like Malik, Russell and Christian at the death.
With Hafeez ruled out of the tournament, Lahore have roped in former Pakistan skipper Salman Butt as a replacement. The left-hander should take the field against the Sultans. Lamichhane comes in for seamer Hardus Viljoen.
Lahore Qalandars: Fakhar Zaman, Sohail Akhtar, Anton Devcich, AB de Villiers (c), Brendan Taylor (wk), Salman Butt, Sandeep Lamichhane, Hassan Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Rahat Ali
Multan Sultans: Shan Masood, James Vince, Laurie Evans, Shoaib Malik (c), Andre Russell, Daniel Christian, Shahid Afridi, Shakeel Ansar (wk), Nauman Ali, Ali Shafiq, Mohammad Irfan
Match starts at 15:30 UAE time
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