Ed Hawkins is keen on Lahore in a chase in the Pakistan Super League in Karachi on Thursday
Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United
Thursday 4 March 14.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Lahore suffered the bad luck of losing Rashid Khan to injury in this tournament. And they are in danger of another significant blow - the second leg of the tournament may not be played at their home ground, the Gaddafi Stadium.
The spate of positive Covid tests in the tournament mean the PCB are considering keeping the show in Karachi. The Qalandars have objected purely out of self-interest. It would seem crazy if they sent all the teams on the road - and the virus too - to another part of the country.
Qalandars enjoyed a win last time out over Karachi Kings. Shaheen Shah Afridi, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, picked up the match gong proving they don't miss Rashid too much.
Possible XI Fakhar, Sohail, Denly, Hafeez, Dunk, Wiese, Ashraf, Patel, Shaheen, Daniyal, Rauf
United find their feet
It's taken them four games but Islamabad may have finally settled on their best XI. They have dispensed with Phil Salt, one batsman too many, and replaced him with home wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir. For Salt, he has now had two very poor franchise tournaments in a row.
Nazir, just 19, came in at No 3 and made a promising start in a successful chase against Quetta Gladiators. Paul Stirling is opening with Alex Hales and they still have room for overseas option Lewis Gregory if required.
Their batting line-up is unpredictable. Shdabad, Faheem, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat and Iftikar could all bat at No 4 if they so wished. Faheem has gone back down the order despite him showing decent hitting skills.
Possible XI Stirling, Hales, Nazir, Shadab, Asif Ali, Talat, Iftikhar, Faheem, M Wasim, Hasan, Musa
It took 14 attempts but a team has finally won a game in this PSL defending a score. And would you believe that it was Quetta, probably the worst team in it, who managed the feat. Their score of 176 against Multan Sultans was enough, despite Sultans going off like a rocket. We're not convinced the chaser won't continue to dominate, however, and still rate the toss as the most important aspect of the match. Once again, we advise big numbers for big runs in the last two-three overs of the first dig.
Qalandars on side in chase
Lahore are 2.01/1 and Islamabad 1.9310/11. There's not much in it, then, and these are the sort of prices one would expect for a venue where 13 of the 14 matches have been won by the team batting second.
We suspect Lahore are the superior team - we've got doubts about flaky United batting after Peshawar rolled them for 118 - although their much touted bowling line-up hasn't shone as expected. Haris Rauf has been quiet and Dilbar Hussain cannot make the XI. At the break, with 180-200 on the board we'd be happy to get with Lahore at odds-against.
Shadab Khan, previously going off at as big as 9s and 10s, has finally been cut to 9/2 for top United bat. So we end our interest in him. Nazir is the same price and looks guaranteed to bat at No 3. Hales has been price-boosted to 13/5.
Mohammad Hafeez stands out at 4/1 for top Lahore bat. Sohail Akhtar is the same price and looks set to open so there's also value there. With the ball, Shaheen is 7/4 top Lahore bowler and he has very little to beat currently.
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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 & COB Best Bets year end