Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United: Value galore on United tops

Callum Ferguson
Ferguson is a good addition

Ed Hawkins previews game one in the returning Pakistan Super League at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday...

"Nazir looks chunky at 9/2, not least because we expect him to bat no lower than No 3. He could even open"
(0.5pts) Back Rohail Nazir top United bat at 5.509/2

Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United
Wednesday 9 June, 17:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Lahore the team to beat

Lahore are the team to beat as they Pakistan Super League resumes. They have recruited wisely following the re-draft, have an excellent bowling attack and are level at the top on points with a game in hand. Victory in the opener would almost guarantee advance.

The major boost for Lahore was the return of Rashid Khan, who injured himself in part one. He was then not expected to return at all for this redux season but a late change of plans ensured Lahore are one of the few teams to emerge unscathed thanks to signing smart replacements. They have lost all-rounders Samit Patel, Shakib-al-Hasan and David Wiese but Aussie James Faulkner adds experience while the addition of Callum Ferguson in a likely No 3 position seems shrewd on slower surfaces. Ferguson is an upgrade on Joe Denly.

Of course franchise leagues are won by bowling groups. And Lahore show up well in that regard. Rashid's mean economy is a given, likewise potency from Shaheen Shah Afridi, top wicket-taker in the tournament, and Haris Rauf. Faulkner has also found nagging line and length recently.

Possible XI Zaman, Sohail, Ferguson, Hafeez, Dunk, Salman, Faulkner, Rashid, Afridi, Rauf, Daniyal

United struggling for quick runs

Unlike Lahore, Islamabad have suffered after the re-drafts. They have lost Alex Hales, who is with Nottinghamshire, at the top of the order and Lewis Gregory. Phil Salt is also absent although his contribution was minimal before postponement.

Hales's absence is harsh on a team which struggled for quick runs. They are ranked at joint-fifth position on batting runs per over rank. Instead they will try a new opening pair in the shape of Usman Khawaja and Colin Munro or Rohail Nazir. Khawaja is not the player he was in T20 alas so it is hard not to come to the conclusion that they are weaker with the willow.

There's nowt wrong with the bowling, however. This lot, before postponement, were the mean machine. No side conceded fewer runs per over. Pacer Hasan Ali is in great nick, Aussie Fawad Ahmed and Shadab Khan provide solid spin options while Faheem Ashraf is a fine all-rounder.

Possible XI Khawaja, Munro, Nazir, Asif Ali, Talat, Faheem, Iftikhar, Shadab, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim, Fawad

Pitch report

All matches will be played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. In time, we expect the pitches to wear and and tear, providing a probable edge for the chaser. This happened in the IP last Autumn. There was a 13-8 split for the chaser with the trend emerging in the latter stages. Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe chasing three times after IPL at the venue.

In the last 25 matches 17 sides batting first have busted 160 or more. Nine teams have busted 170 or more. That means we're a little nervous about going short on the innings runs market, although the two bowling units could well buck the trend. In the 2019 PSL, three out of four matches were won by the chaser.

Lahore can reverse head-to-head

Lahore have drifted from the early show 1.705/7. They have settled at the 1.834/5 mark with Islamabad United 2.186/5.

The surprising stat here which suggests Islamabad United are underrated is an extraordinary record on the head-to-head. They have won the last six.

Still, personnel has changed since the first games of those sequence considerably. More relevant is that ponderous United batting going up against the Lahore attack. They could well struggle to get up the eight an over that may be required through their own weakness and the opposition's strength. Look for even money in-play.

Tops value

Fakhar Zaman, the Pakistan opener, and Khawaja have both been boosted by Sportsbook to 11/4 to top score for their respective teams. But we're going to swerve as we reckon we've spotted some value all over the shop on the top United bat market.

Nazir looks chunky at 9/2, not least because we expect him to bat no lower than No 3. He could even open. Shadab Khan didn't bat lower than No 5 in the first installment and should be shorter than 9/1. Finally, don't miss Faheem at a whopping 20/1. This is a wrong price purely on talent alone.

**

PSL team-by-team guide, rankings, squads and possible XIs here

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