Lahore Qalandars vs Multan Sultans: Preview and Prediction
The league stage caravan of the 2023 Pakistan Super League is done and dusted as we are now heading towards the playoffs battle of the eighth edition. The two biggest contenders for the prestigious PSL title will be locking horns in the solitary Qualifier clash of the season to claim the Finale ticket.
The high-profile fixture between the table-toppers Lahore Qalandars and the Multan Sultans side will be underway at Gaddafi Stadium this Wednesday.
Shan Masood’s poor form and the unforgettable performance of Usman Khan indicate that there are quite minimal chances for the comeback of the 33-year-old opener. Multan undoubtedly has the most destructive batting lineup in the league and their game approach is also likely to be heavily dependent on that. However, the most amusing thing for Sultan’s team management is their middle order’s prowess in finishing the innings in style as it will hand them an extra advantage for the knockout clashes.
The Lahorean gaffer Aqib Javed is expected to make multiple changes to the Qalandars lineup which took the battlefield against Peshawar to get back to his strengths. The veteran Zimbabwean all-rounder Sikandar Raza will be returning to the playing eleven meanwhile David Wiese will be also handing over the leadership responsibilities to the first-choice skipper Shaheen Afridi.
What have they done so far?
The defending champions have thoroughly dominated the league stages of PSL 8 to emerge as the table-toppers after registering seven victories and 14 points. This was the best-ever league stage performance for the Punjab capital-based franchise which lifted their maiden PSL trophy in the previous season.
However, the Qalandars couldn’t perform up to their reputation in the final league fixture where they suffered a massive 86-run defeat at the hands of arch-rivals Karachi Kings who are already out of the competition.
On the other hand, the 2021 edition winners finished second in the points table with 12 points and just two points short of their Punjabi counterparts. After completing a hat-trick of losses, the Green and Blues staged a quick turnaround and ensured a Top 2 finish by winning the final two league games.
Their most recent appearance was a historic one as they ended up on the winning side of a 515-run saga after successfully defending the first-inning total of 262 by 9 runs.
Head to Head record
The induction of Multan Sultans in the Pakistani top-flight T20 competition has induced a war between these two franchises to establish supremacy in Punjab cricket. Janoobis were leading the head-to-head record of the Punjab Derby before the commencement of the ongoing season however, Lahore has now turned the tables around. The current head-to-head count stands in the favor of the Qalandars with 8 triumphs from 15 encounters while the win count of Multan still remains at 7.
These two combatants also shared the same battlefield on the inaugural day of Season 8 which was a re-match of the previous edition finals. It was a nail-biting contest played at Multan Cricket Stadium where the defending champions edged past their local rivals with a minimal deficit of just 1 run. The high-profile bowling attack of Lahore somehow managed to defend the 175 runs total despite the Green and Blues getting a flying opening stand of hundred runs.
Lahore hosted the returning fixture at their fortress Gaddafi Stadium and once again emerged victorious with a convincing triumph. The revengeful objectives of Janoobis were dethroned by the Qalandars who registered a 21-run win to complete their first-ever double over their counterparts. A magical spell of three wickets for 15 runs in the four-over quota from Rashid ‘Karamati’ Khan played a pivotal role in the Greens’ prowess of successfully defending 180 runs.
Rashid Khan: The 24-year-old spin-wizard is currently standing in the third position of the wicket-taking charts of the eighth season and is also the only spinner to make it into the Top 5 of the leaderboard. Despite missing the initial games due to international commitment, Rashid has scalped a whopping tally of 15 wickets with the tournament-best bowling average of 13 in just 8 appearances.
We may see the Afghan T20I skipper coming onto the action quite early to strike a counter move on the Sultans’ strong top-order.
Usman Khan: The Karachi batting sensation is certainly the most dangerous batter in the PSL circuit at the moment after thriving in the form of his life.
Khan recently made global headlines when he broke his teammate Rilee Rossouw’s record of smashing PSL history’s fastest hundred (36 balls) within 24 hours after scoring 120 off 43 balls. Interestingly, the 24-year-old was dismissed on the golden duck against Lahore on the opening day which was his first and last appearance before the century heroics.
Predicted Playing XI
Lahore Qalandars: Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Kamran Ghulam, Sam Billings, Hussain Talat, Sikandar Raza, David Wiese, Rashid Khan, Shaheen Afridi ©, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan
Multan Sultans: Usman Khan, Mohammad Rizwan ©, Rilee Rossouw, Kieron Pollard, Tim David, Khushdil Shah, Anwar Ali, Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Izharulhaq Naveed, Ihsanullah
Considering the aspects of the head-to-head record, current form and league performance into the account, it is quite evident that the Qalandars will be turning up for this forthcoming clash. However, the only team which has managed to daunt the triumphal chariot of Lahore over the past couple of seasons. Meanwhile, this is also a golden opportunity for the Janoobis to avenge their final debacle and double defeat in the ongoing season at once.