Ed Hawkins checks in on the betting ahead game one of the PSL play-offs with Multan trying to rediscover their dominant form in Karachi on Saturday
"Multan are superior on our numbers. And if they chase - Kings have a history of struggling to defend - they are the rationale wager"
Multan Sultans v Karachi Kings
Saturday November 14, 10.00
TV: live on Sky channel 732
Before the tournament was postponed because of the pandemic, Multan were the Mumbai Indians or Trinbago Knight Riders of the PSL. They topped the section, losing only twice and had play continued they would have been very hard to stop.
Form goes out of the window, though. As does personnel. Multan have had to revamp their squad. Out go James Vince, a key batter, Moeen Ali and Fabian Allen. Vince's replacement, Mahmudullah, has been ruled out already with Covid.
Yorkshire opener Adam Lyth is a shrewd capture, though.
It is exactly the sort of smart thinking we come to expect from the Sultans who are data driven.
We can pretty sure no other team in the play-offs will be as prepared. And looking at their possible XI, they still look very tasty.
Possible XI Lyth, Zeeshan, Masood, Rossouw, Khushdil, Bopara, Afridi, Tanvir, Irfan, Tahir, Ilyas
Kings short on bowlers
Karachi finished second in the standings and can be categorised as one of those franchises that has put faith in batters over bowlers. A risky strategy long-term but in a hastily arranged shootout like this, they will fancy their chances.
The brilliant Babar Azam leads the way with Sharjeel, Imad Wasim and Iftikhar providing the local power. Alex Hales has also returned and they have an embarrassment of riches with the willow.
Bowling is an issue, though. The loss of Chris Jordan - their top wicket-taker - could hurt, particularly at the death. Much depends on Mohammad Amir and Waqas Mahmood.
Possible XI Sharjeel, Babar, Hales, Imad, Iftikhar, Walton, Rizwan, Amir, Waqas, Umer, Usama
2020 MS 186-6 (Amir 2-27) defended KK 134 (Hales 29, Sohail 2-20)
2019 KK 120-5 (Ilyas 3-27) chased MS 118-9
KK 183-6 defended MS (Babar 77) 176-9 (Amir 4-25)
Overall KK 3 MS 1
Here are the first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second) from the National Stadium, Karachi before postponement: 150-2/136-2/154-1/150-2/156-2/148-2/201-1/168-2. You will spot a trend for the chaser to dominate but we're not getting too caught up with that because as well as fresh squads we have fresh pitches.
The only possible reason to take a view on the toss bias might be out of respect for a trend for sides being unsure what a good score is in these circumstances. Runs should be easier to come by and it is notable batting was easier at the start of the tournament than the end. With Multan whacking 194-3 in the warm-up against Zalmi, over 170 could be a play for the first dig. Shan Masood and Ravi Bopara both hit fifties. Sportsbook go 6/4 both teams bust 160.
Sultans can chase
The match odds market is spooked by the unique conditions of these play-offs. Multan are outsiders for early money at 2.001/1 with Kings 1.9110/11. Before the pandemic, Multan would have been around 1.758/11.
Man for man and balance of the XIs, we make Multan favourites. And for all the talk of the disruption Multan have suffered and the disappointment they were unable to finish the job, it is a level playing field. Kings are also on the receiving end, having to adapt and change.
So all we can really do is analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the players involved. Multan are superior on our numbers. And if they chase - Kings have a history of struggling to defend - they are the rationale wager. A wins ends them direct to the final with the loser playing off against the Lahore-Peshawar winner.
As discussed on Cricket...Only Bettor (see below), the brilliant and blitzing Khushdil Shah is a wager at 7/1 with Sportsbook for top Multan bat. He has been in excellent form for Pakistan and could be promoted up the order from No 5 or 6.
We are also keen on the potency of Waqas Maqsood at 7/2 top Kings bowler. Amir is 5/2 jolly but Waqas has a superior strike rate over the last 12 months and is unheralded. Babar is 15/8 for top Kings bat but it's not value on win rate.
PSL preview on Cricket...Only Bettor
Ed Hawkins IPL P-L