Multan Sultans v Lahore Qalandars
Sunday 27 February, 14:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Lahore limited with the bat
It is difficult not to be concerned by Lahore's batting. They are hugely reliant on Fakhar Zaman.
That was fine in the league stage because he has been remarkably consistent. But when he fails they look dangerously exposed.
Fakhar has 585 runs in 12 innings to put him top of whole pile. Kamran Ghulam and Mohammad Hafeez are having average seasons striking in the 120s while Phil Salt has just 63 in eight at a ponderous 114.
At least Abdullah Shafique stepped up in the final eliminator against Islamabad Umited. He produced a match-turning innings.
They appear to be reliant on a big performance or two rather than a collective effort. And that's ok. It is often the nature of T20. David Wiese did it with bat and ball versus United. Shaheen Afridi might be the difference this time. But bear in mind there's no Rashid Khan.
Probable XI: Fakhar, Shafique, Ghulam, Hafeez, Salt, Brook, Wiese, S Patel, Afridi, Rauf, Zaman
Sultans beat Lahore in the qualifier by 23 runs to avenge their defeat earlier in the league stage. They had won the first meeting. The qualifier was an easy win in the end, although the key was the lack of batting depth for Lahore.
Fakhar stood alone as Lahore failed to get close to a below-par 163. It was interesting that Sultans were squeezed so by Lahore. Mohammad Rizwan's 51-ball 53 was almost a disastrous knock. Had Rilee Rossouw not managed a 42-ball blitz they would have been in trouble.
They are not a full-strength. Tim David is a huge loss and Johnson Charles is not on the same level as his replacement.
Probable XI: Masood, Rizwan, Rossouw, Azmat, Charles, Khushdil, Willey, Asif, Raees, Tahir, Dahani.
The Lahore surface has been predictable. The problem has been that it's taken a while for the trend to emerge because of the need for a decent study sample. But now after 18 matches we know what to expect.
The side batting first has an advantage. More than 170 has been busted ten times. And that has led to a toss bias. Only five teams have won chasing. The paucity of runs in second innings is borne out by the fact that more than 160 (!) has been busted by both only eight times.
Confidence in a true surface is beginning to waiver, though. In the last six no team has made more than 170 batting first.
If Lahore bat first, it may be time to short the runs par line at around 170.5 because of those concerns surrounding batting depth against what is the strongest bowling attack. Bet the market here. .
Hoping for Sultans price to come up
In the qualifier we had a nice in-play success on Sultans as we waited for even money. Given that strategy worked so successfully, it feels right to try it again. Sultans are 1.774/5. That will take a pinch if they bat first but there are two individuals (Fakhar and Afridi) at the top end of each innings to help us out. Place an order for 2.001/1. It may take a while and if it doesn't come, fair dos.
Fakhar and Rizwan are two of the most reliable top-bat bets in the tournament. Both have been price-boosted by Sportsbook. Fakhar is 13/5 and Rizwan 12/5. Fakhar has a win percentage of 31 in the last three editions, including this one. Rizwan's record stands at 40%. On that basis both could be considered value.
With those records in mind both men are likely to prove popular on other markets. The pair are priced at 6/1 each for man of the match and 4/1 and 7/2 respectively for top match bat. David Wiese looks value at 35/1 to top For Lahore, by the way.
With the ball, Multan's Shahnawaz Dahani has had a late surge. He got man of the match in the qualifier. He is rated at 11/4 top Sultans bowler and we'd have him ahead of 9/4 favourite Imran Tahir. Back the Sportsbook markets here. .