Ed Hawkins previews the Pakistan Super League final qualifier on Tuesday from Abu Dhabi as Islamabad United feel the pressure...
"Three of the last four between these two the bet would have been a winner. United defended a massive 247 by 15 runs in the last meeting..."
Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi
Tuesday 22 June 17.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Who'd have thunk it? Islamabad United, so dominant in the group stage leg in Abu Dhabi failed to book their final spot in the qualifier, losing to Multan Sultans. And it was a chastening defeat, too.
Kushdil Shah and Johnson Charles launched a late assault to post 180 and United, who have often played fast and loose with five bowlers, crumbled. Usman Khawaja tried to do it on his own after they were reduced to 61 for five and, after a brief glimmer of hope, a 31-run defeat was comprehensive.
It may be time to sacrifice one of their batters. Hussain Talat, who is barely striking above 100, does not seem worthy of a place and they could drop him to find room again for Fawad Ahmed to add bowling guile.
Possible XI Khawaja, Munro, Akhlaq, Shadab, Iftikhar, Asif Ali, Talat, Faheem, Hasan, Wasim, Akif
Zalmi ended Karachi Kings' title defence with a superb chase late on Monday. After conceding 175, they were in the mire but Kings doubled up on being the only side to fail to defend 170 or more.
Hazratullah Zazai, the Afghan opener, had the game sewn up in the first powerplay of the reply. He went on to smash 77 from 38 including five sixes. It was almost inevitable that when Imam-ul-Haq was becalmed at the other end (11 from 17) a wobble would occur. But Sherfane Rutherford put his foot down and they got home with a ball to spare.
Zalmi have done superbly to get this far because of the player drain towards the end of the group stage. The departures of David Miller, Fabian Allen and Fidel Edwards have reduced their options.
Haider Ali has been dropped after poor returns batting at number three. But he suddenly looks a superior option to Imam after the go-slow. They could try Jono Wells, who has waited patiently for a go but that may be a bit of a risk in such a big game. A left-field option is for Wahab Riaz to bat as a punch-hitter at three.
Possible XI Zazai, Kamran, Haider, Shoaib Malik, Usman, Rutherford, Powell, Wahab, Umaid, Asif, Irfan
The first-innings scores so far at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second) read: 175-2/180-1/149-2/176-1/169-1/176-1/183-1/108-2/190-2/166-2/197-1/133-2/170-1/176-1/143-2.
There is a clear trend: post 170 or more, win the game. Unless you are Karachi Kings, of course. And it is fair to say the wicket is slick. That or the wet ball because of dew is making it tougher for bowlers to hit line and length. Nine times now 170 or more has been busted.
Sportsbook go even money that both teams score 160 or more. In three of the last four between these two that bet would have been a winner. One of those, of course, was a run fest. United defended a massive 247 by 15 runs in the last meet. On the Exchange, decent numbers should be available for 180 or more whoever bats first.
Keen on Zalmi up front
Islamabad are 1.758/11 with Zalmi 2.186/5. Even though we rate United as the superior team (eight wins in the group compared to Zalmi's five) it is hard to get involved at such skinny numbers.
Especially considering batting first and going hard has been such an advantage. If the toss goes against United here, they could well feel the sort of scoreboard pressure they faced against Multan. And then it's down to their mental resolve.
So Zalmi are worth a risk batting first. If not, United's price could well contract sharply with Khawaja and Colin Munro so dangerous in the powerplay.
Khawaja is 13/5 favourite for top United bat with Munro looking chunky at 3/1. Mohammad Akhlaq has been underrated at 9/2 because he bats at three. For Zalmi, we like Shoaib Malik at 4/1 but recognise that points get added quickly in-play.
With the ball, the fit-again Faheem Ashraf deserves more respect than a 4/1 quote for top United bowler. His strike rate is superior to all of his team-mates bar Akif Javed, and it's only out by 0.6.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l