Coincidently, these two teams will face off against each other once again after butting heads in the final fixture of PSL 3 less than 24 hours ago. The first-placed Islamabad were knocked off their high horse as the Kings made light work of the favourites with a convincing seven-wicket win in Sharjah.
Despite being comprehensively defeated, Islamabad United doesn’t have to hit the panic button just yet. In the mist of it all, key wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi was absent from the team as well as veteran fast-bowler Mohammad Sami who’s been a regular in the starting line-up. Karachi should also be expecting former English spinner Samit Patel to make a return in the qualifier, the 33-year-old has made a huge impact in a handful of his games and shouldn’t be discounted. It probably wasn’t the best way to prepare for a finals campaign, but this Islamabad side are confident of their ability to get the job done with a full-strength team which probably explains the three changes for their last match. You know what you’re going to get from JP Duminy at the top of the order, we’ve seen him influence matches on a number of occasions in the tournament, same goes for Luke Ronchi who is a more prolific striker who knows no bounds when he gets that first boundary away. Those two are pivotal performers heading into this match, one of them has to fire if they want to go deeper into the tournament. The pair had a 104-run opening partnership against the Kings earlier in the competition. It will be up to Alex Hales, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali and possibly even Misbah-ul-Haq to score quick runs if one of or possibly even the two openers fall cheaply. Alex Hales has plenty going for him at the moment, power, strength and placement which should give Islamabad the confidence to attack around the English opener if need be. As mentioned previously, both Samit Patel and Mohammad Sami should return to the side for this all-important qualifier, giving them a strong bowling unit featuring Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf as well. Medium pacer Faheem Ashraf has just about been Islamabad’s most impressive bowler in PSL 3, he’s currently taken 16 wickets at an average of 14.06 and is also the competitions leading wicket-taker.
After that shock-upset against the tournament leaders, Karachi would back themselves to get the job done once again, only this time Islamabad will come out all guns blazing. That’s not to say Islamabad weren’t competitive, they did what they could having rested some of their key individuals, but that wasn’t a true-reflection of how successful they’ve been in this years PSL. Deep down, Karachi would know that their recent victory against them counts for nothing going into the qualifier, they’ll certainly have their hands full. The Kings should welcome back skipper Imad Wasim who has been recovering from concussion, and stand-in captain Eoin Morgan is set to play his last game in the PSL before flying back to England. Wasim’s inclusion will only strengthen Karachi’s bowling attack, they already have a pretty damaging group of individuals who have all worked brilliantly together in PSL 3. Focussing on the batting for a moment though, Khurram Manzoor finally returned to the top of the order after a long-layoff for no-particular reason, he has hard-done by after scoring a half century against Islamabad some time ago. Babar Azam’s superior skills in the top order should lay a solid foundation for the likes of Colin Ingram and Shahid Afridi venturing towards the end of an innings, Azam finished second in the PSL’s leading run scorers for 2018 with 339. England skipper Eoin Morgan is expected to exit the PSL with a bang, his adventurous stroke play is a joy to watch when he finds his range. As it stands though, Karachi have the potential to do some major-damage in the bowling department. 24-year-old quick Usman Khan is in brilliant form with the ball, his last three matches have produced figures of 2/37, 3/11 & 4/17 just recently against Islamabad. Mohammad Amir has been good for a wicket a game while the “BOOM BOOM” man Shahid Afridi possesses the ability to take 2-3 wickets each game with his probing-legbreaks. Imad Wasim will be a huge gain ahead of this qualifier as well, he hasn’t had an ideal tournament with the ball, but he’s as good as anyone when he pins the opposition down.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Islamabad United | PSL | qualifier | Dubai
- Luke Ronchi
- Faheem Ashraf
- Alex Hales
- Shadab Khan
- JP Duminy
Wildcard pick – Hussain Talat
Top 5 fantasy picks | Karachi Kings | PSL | qualifier | Dubai
- Shahid Afridi
- Babar Azam
- Usman Khan
- Joe Denly
- Colin Ingram
Wildcard pick – Mohammad Irfan jr.
Islamabad United (possible) – 1. JP Duminy 2. Luke Ronchi (wk) 3. Alex Hales 4. Hussain Talat 5. Asif Ali 6. Misbah-ul-Haq © 7. Shadab Khan 8. Samit Patel 9. Faheem Ashraf 10. Amad Butt/Zafar Gohar 11. Mohammad Sami.
Karachi Kings (possible) – 1. Khurram Manzoor/Lendl Simmons 2. Joe Denly 3. Babar Azam 4. Eoin Morgan 5. Colin Ingram 6. Shahid Afridi 7. Imad Wasim © 8. Mohammad Rizwan (wk) 9. Mohammad Amir 10. Mohammad Irfan jr 11. Usman Khan.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.