The caravan of the 2020 edition of the Pakistan Super League has reached its business end and we are into the final three league-stage fixtures. The 29th match will see table-toppers Multan Sultans lock horns against Lahore Qalandars in what is a do-or-die encounter for the latter, as far as qualifying for the semi-finals is concerned.
Due to the ever-escalating threat of the pandemic that is the novel coronavirus, the PCB rejigged the schedule, replacing the playoffs with traditional semi-finals, both of which will be played on March 17th. Table-toppers Multan Sultans have already sealed their spot in the semi-finals.
They will come into their final group-stage encounter against Qalanders, riding on the back of a three-run win against Peshawar Zalmi after brilliant spells from Sohail Tanvir [3-26] and Ali Shafiq [2-31] helped them defend 6-154.
Lahore Qalandars, on the other hand, will come into this game, knowing pretty well that they need to win it if they are to make their way into the top-4. Qalandars had an abysmal start to their campaign four of their first five games, including a five-wicket defeat against Multan Sultans in the tournament.
But, the Sohail Akhtar-led unit managed to get their campaign back on track courtesy a three-match winning streak, which was ultimately broken thanks to a whirlwind 151-run opening stand between Babar Azam and Sharjeel Khan in their last fixture.
Pitch & Weather Conditions
A bright and sunny day is expected in Lahore on Sunday. According to the weather report, the temperatures will range between a minimum of 12 to a maximum of 24 degrees celsius.
The past two completed games in Lahore have been high scoring fixtures where the chasing side easily overhauled the targets of 188. But, those were D/N fixtures and dew played a substantial part during the run-chase. With Sunday’s game set to be a day fixture, both sides- especially Lahore Qalandars- would look to bat first and apply the choke on the opposition later.
In the absence of overseas players like James Vince and Rilee Rossouw– both of whom have returned to their respective countries- the onus of spearheading the batting-unit will be on openers Rohail Nazir and Zeeshan Ashraf, who is fresh off from a whirlwind half-century [52 off 39 balls] against Zalmi in the last game.
Moeen Ali and Ravi Bopara did not have a good outing with the bat in the last game and in the absence of Rossouw, the onus will be on the duo to bring their experience to the table- with both bat and ball. Khushdil Shah’s late blitz [30* off 20 balls] turned out to be the difference in the last game and Multan will be hoping for an encore from the all-rounder.
As far as bowling is concerned, Sohai Tanvir will once again lead the fast-bowling unit along with Ali Shafiq- both of whom were instrumental in Multan defending their total in the last game- while the spin department will be lead by seasoned campaigners in Imran Tahir and Shahid Afridi.
Probable XI: Zeeshan Ashraf (WK), Rohail Nazir, Moeen Ali, Shan Masood (C), Ravi Bopara, Khushdil Shah, Shahid Afridi, Imran Tahir, Ali Shafiq, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan
Each of the Qalandars top-4- Fakhar Zaman, Sohail Akhtar, Chris Lynn, and Ben Dunk- have notched up a 50+ score in their past three fixtures. The quartet will once again serve as the bedrock of their batting unit.
Mohammad Hafeez and Samt Patel will be crucial in the middle-overs with the bat as well as with the ball. As far as bowling is concerned, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Dilbar Hussain will lead the pacers department.
Probable XI: Fakhar Zaman, Chris Lynn, Mohammad Hafeez, Ben Dunk (wk), Sohail Akhtar (c), Samit Patel, David Wiese, Shaheen Afridi, Dilbar Hussain, Haris Rauf, Maaz Khan
Probable Top Performers
Zeeshan Ashraf- Multan Sultans | Ben Dunk- Lahore Qalandars
Live Streaming: Cricket GateWay
Match Timings: 14:30 IST, 14:00 local
The prediction is for Multan Sultans to win the match