Karachi Kings v Islamabad United: Hales could put holders under pressure

Alex Hales
Hales needs to go hard

Ed Hawkins previews the Pakistan Super League action on Wednesday from Karachi and eyes an upset at the odds

"Babar is also a beneficiary of a boost to the same price. It’s not short enough on win rate"

(1pt) Back Babar Azam top Kings bat Sportsbook 3.505/2

Karachi Kings v Islamabad United
Wednesday 24 February 14.00
Live on Sky Sports

Kings by name...

Champions Karachi continued from where they left off in the 2020 season, thumping Quetta Gladiators by seven wickets in their opener.

It highlighted the gulf between one of the haves and the have nots. Quetta could only manage 121 as a fearsome Kings bowling unit had the game won by the break.

Arshad Iqbal, Waqas Maqsood, Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim could well rival Lahore Qalandars for the best attack in the tournament in time. Last year no team was more economical in the powerplay overs.

They are not a one-man show with the bat, either, despite Babar Azam's brilliance. Joe Clarke stepped up with an important innings in the chase giving faith to Colin Ingram, Mohammad Nabi and Dan Christian.

Possible XI Sharjeel, Babar, Clarke, Ingram, Nabi, Christian, Imad, Yamin, Waqas, Amir, Arshad,

United looking good

Islamabad stuck their hand up in their first game with an early contender for performance of the season. They produced a superb come-from-behind win against last season's regular ladder winners, Multan Sultans. They still had the benefit of the bias for the chaser, mind.

Bowling first, they looked likely to concede something big with Mohammad Rizwan and Rilee Rossouw going well. But 19-year-old pacer (yes, another off the production line) Mohammad Wasim took three wickets to stem the flow. Lewis Gregory and Faheem Ashraf then went into blitz mode to rescue what looked like a lost cause from 74 for six going after 151.

Long term we're not convinced about Phil Slat in the opening berth (Paul Stirling will probably come in at some stage) but Alex Hales should be capable of consistent quick runs. Shadab Khan is cheeky batting himself at No 3 ahead of the likes of Asif Ali and Hussain Talat.

Possible XI Salt, Hales, Shadab, Talat, Ali, Iftikhar, Gregory, Faheem, Gohar, Hasan Ali, Wasim.

Pitch report

The trend for the chaser dominating is holding. Likewise teams struggling to bust 160 or more. So it's important to be aware of those facts before betting on the match odds and innings runs. The latter seems to have been a little slow to react and we are hopeful of being able to lay 160 or more first up pretty cheaply. Certainly not above 2.1011/10.

Respect the chaser

Karachi Kings are 1.664/6 with Islamabad 2.186/5. We would be very happy to get with United at those odds if they were batting second.

Of course we respect Kings as holders but United have worked hard in the off season to correct their balance and they should be a competitive outfit. The likes of Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf are the sort of core domestic players who can make all the difference in a tight game.

The challenge for United is that powerplay. Salt and Hales need to go hell for leather regardless of that Kings record and try to pile on the pressure.

Tops value

Should a No 3 be as big as 8/1 in T20? Probably not so Shadab looks a rick on Sportsbook's top United bat prices. Hales has been price-boosted to 5/2. Babar is also a beneficiary of a boost to the same price. It's not short enough on win rate.

With the ball, we remain keen on Waqas and Faheem for respective honours for Kings and Islamabad. Both are priced at 7/2.

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