Ed Hawkins previews the Pakistan Super League action from Karachi on Sunday and expects a strong show from the second favourites...
"We are very happy to be with Lahore at those odds. And we don't expect a big collapse if they win the toss and chase. It is very hard to see how the Zalmi mob can repel that Lahore bowling"
Lahore Qalandars v Peshawar Zalmi
Sunday 21 February 09.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Lahore Qalandars are second favourites for the title at 7/2 with Sportsbook and they boast one of the best bowling line-ups ever assembled in franchise cricket.
Spinner Rashid Khan and pace trio Haris Rauf, Dilbar Hussain and Shaheen Shah Afridi are going to have plenty of batsmen on toast throughout. The worry for Lahore is whether they have put all the eggs in one basket.
In a tournament where bowling stock is strong, the key could be, for a change, batting power. Much relies on Fakhar Zaman at the top of the order and Mohammad Hafeez in the middle.
Possible XI Fakhar Zaman, Sohail Akhtar, Zaid Alam, Mohammad Hafeez, Ben Dunk, Samit Patel, David Wiese, Rashid Khan, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Dilbar Hussain
We have Peshawar Zalmi down as one of the weakest units in the league. They will claim they have gone for wily experience. We reckon it is a squad well past its best.
Kamran Akmal, Ravi Bopara, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz would have been a fantastic core if the year was 2017. Instead they need to hope that the thrusting Haider Ali and spin prodigy Mujeeb ur Rahman can paper over the cracks. They have already lost the services of Liam Livingstone to England duty.
David Miller comes into the tournament off the back of a fine performance in Pakistan for South Africa in a T20. But Miller is very hit and miss. It may be another six or seven innings before he produces again. Bench strength is weak, too, and a change they may look to do early is find a sport for Windies all-rounder Sherfane Rutherford.
We have listed the possible XI below but don't take it as read. One senior player has tested positive for Covid so is out. Another has breached protocols so will also miss the game. A shambolic start to a likely shambolic campaign.
Possible XI Haider Ali, Kamran Akmal, Miller, Bopara, Shoaib Malik, Amad Butt, Wahab Riaz, Umaid Asif, Mohammad Irfan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Imran
Eight of the last ten PSL matches at the Karachi National Stadium have been won by the chaser. This is a bias which is also reflected in the second venue for the tournament, Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium where seven of the last sides batting first have lost. Toss is key, then and we would be very surprised if the captain who wins the toss does not chase. More than 160 has been busted only four times in the last 12 matches. We're not getting involved, therefore, in the 5/6 that both teams score 150 or more.
Lahore are 1.768/11 with Zalmi 2.1411/10. We are surprised the hosts are not in 1.608/13 territory. Perhaps the market has been slow to react to that Covid update from the Zalmi squad.
We are very happy to be with Lahore at those odds. And we don't expect a big collapse if they win the toss and chase. It is very hard to see how the Zalmi mob can repel that Lahore bowling.
Haider is a fancy at 11/4 for top Zalmi bat with Sportsbook. He will go hard or go home. We also note the 11/1 available about Rutherford. For Lahore Hafeez's reliability is unquestioned but the 3/1 looks on the skinny side.
Top Lahore bowler, despite the talent, looks like one to avoid because they could all be taking wickets off each other. Rashid is a poor jolly at 7/4. If we were pressed we'd go for Rauf at 11/4.
Bumper PSL team-by-team preview on Cricket...Only Bettor
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