Islamabad United could do with some JP Duminy brilliance like the South African all-rounder is producing against India at the moment, because they looked an underdone-team in their first outing against Peshawar yesterday. The Multan Sultans are on a roll after winning their first two games of PSL 3, and a win against Islamabad is well in their grasp.
Rarely do you see the “new kid” fit in at school on their first day, but some just have the knack of finding their place straight away and creating a social circle like they’ve known these people for years and years. The Multan Sultans are somewhat in a similar-position, they were the sixth team introduced into the competition this year and you could almost feel the tension when they stepped onto the field for the first time. Despite all the critics theories on how they’d cope, the Sultans happened to be that successful “new kid” who fit in like a glove as they triumphed with back–to-back victories over the founding PSL teams. They could be the biggest success story in the tournament, at best they were a dark horse, now they find themselves sitting at the top of the table in their inaugural PSL season. They’re up against a team who has two years worth of experience in the league, yet look tremendously-underdone as an overall group. It’s hard to see them winning against a fresh, enthusiastic and exuberant Sultans side who continue to impress each game.
The Sultans are a team that has been solidly thought & planned out in advance of this tournament, they knew what they wanted, who they wanted and most importantly, how they wanted to shape the line-up. A strong batting line-up is always a positive approach & a major crowd-pleaser, so it’s no surprise that Multan’s top five features Kumar Sangakkara, Shoaib Malik and Kieron Pollard who are all great entertainers of the game. Rarely do you see a line-up such as Multan’s caliber fall flat on their face, this was a team that was always destined for success with the amount of key International & local signings obtained before PSL 3. Captain Shoaib Malik and Kumar Sangakkara have led the way with the bat so far with some magnificent knocks to get the Sultans campaign underway. Consecutive fifties (57 & 63) notched up by Sangakkara has been exactly what the Sultans would have been hoping for, an opening batsman leading the way & building a platform for the middle order to launch. And launch they have, that middle-order brilliance from Shoaib Malik has resulted in two quick-fire 40’s against Peshawar and Lahore along with Ahmed Shehzad and Kieron Pollard making small contributions along the way. I believe the best thing about this Sultans outfit is how well the bowlers have backed up their batsmen, T20 cricket is a brutal format and can often be hard to restrict opposition teams in the field. Hats off to Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Imran Tahir who have been masterful with their bowling so far, even the big-man Kieron Pollard has chimed in with some wickets!
Up against Multan who’s team balance is just about perfect, Islamabad will have to be at their absolute best to get anywhere-near the top-of-the-table Sultans who look a tough proposition to trump in 2018. It’s hard to describe what this team looks like on paper, usually accustomed to some big International names mixed with the beloved local players who have contributed a lot to their country over the years, Islamabad looked more like a first-class team against Peshawar rather than a T20 franchise team. Luke Ronchi and Chadwick Walton (who happen to be two of their overseas players) were the only notable individuals in Islamabad’s top & middle order. Bigger problems arose when both Ronchi and Walton were dismissed, leaving the fairly-unknown middle order the difficult task at hand. Ronchi is a genuine-T20 wicketkeeper-batsman who enjoys pummeling the new ball all over the place, while Walton is a renown aggressor in both the CPL and for the West Indies. If those two continue to be dismissed early, Islamabad only have Andre Russell who you have to figure is a little bit rusty due to a lack of cricket over the past year. In saying that, Russell is a marque player in this format and has that X factor Islamabad are in desperate need of. I’d go as far to say that their bowling is probably what they’re most reliant on at this point, there’s some real class in the mix with leg-spinner Shadab Khan, seamers Mohammad Sami, Rumman Raees and Andre Russell as well as Faheem Ashraf who picked up two wickets in the last match.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Multan Sultans | PSL | 6th match | Dubai
- Kumar Sangakkara
- Imran Tahir
- Ahmed Shehzad
- Shoaib Malik
- Mohammad Irfan
Wildcard pick – Kieron Pollard
Top 5 fantasy picks | Islamabad United | PSL | 6th match | Dubai
- Luke Ronchi
- Shadab Khan
- Andre Russell
- Mohammad Sami
- Asif Ali
Wildcard pick – Faheem Ashraf
Multan Sultans (possible) – 1. Kumar Sangakkara (wk) 2. Ahmed Shehzad 3. Sohaib Maqsood 4. Shoaib Malik (c) 5. Kieron Pollard 6. Darren Bravo 7. Sohail Tanvir 8. Saif Badar/Kashif Bhatti 9. Junaid Khan 10. Imran Tahir 11. Mohammad Irfan.
Islamabad United (possible) – 1. Luke Ronchi (wk) 2. Chadwick Walton 3. Asif Ali 4. Iftikhar Ahmed 5. Hussain Talat/Misbah-ul-Haq 6. Samit Patel 7. Andre Russell 8. Shadab Khan 9. Faheem Ashraf 10. Mohammad Sami 11. Rumman Raees (c).