In the second semi-final of the day, Karachi Kings take on Lahore Qalandars in their own backyard in what is set to be a cracker of a clash. Finishing second and third in the league table respectively, these two have very little to separate them. Karachi are just about edging the betting at the moment thanks to a massive win over Lahore in their previous meeting last week.
The Qalandars come into this one with impetus of their own though, having put league-leaders and fellow semi-finalists Multan to the sword on Sunday. With the added incentive of a home crowd sure to fire up Lahore even more, the outcome of Tuesday’s match is tough to call indeed.
Karachi will no doubt look to key man and the competition’s leading run-scorer Babar Azam, whilst Mohammad Amir will look to back up his claim as the best fast bowler in the competition. For Lahore, new boy Abid Ali will want to endear himself to the home crowd with a strong performance. With the ball, left-arm paceman Shaheen Afridi will look to add to his haul of 13 wickets and claim the title of top wicket taker in the competition before heading off to play in IPL 2020.
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Both sides will be lamenting the loss of key players as a result of concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
For home side Lahore, the absence of Chris Lynn will be particularly painful after his blistering knock of 113 saw them surge into the semis with a win over Multan on Sunday. Although the arrival of the talented Abid Ali will go some way to mitigate this disappointment, it must be said that Lynn’s omission is a huge negative for the Qalandars.
Otherwise, Lahore will look to remain unchanged from their previous outing and with the likes of Ben Dunk and Mohammad Hafeez in the middle order, anything is possible. Add to this the thrilling trio of Afridi, Haris Rauf and Dilbar Hussain in attack and the home team will fancy their chances on a quality pitch.
As for Karachi, all eyes will be on star batsman Babar Azam, who has lit-up this year’s PSL along with his opening partner Sharjeel Khan. If Azam continues his rich vein of form, it could be a long afternoon indeed for Lahore and we fancy the Kings’ opener as our top tip for this game. As for the Karachi bowlers, the likes of Mohammad Amir, Umer Khan and Umaid Asif will look to keep Lahore’s big-hitting middle order as restricted as possible.
In all nine of their meetings, each of these franchises have enjoyed a fairly even rub of the green. Karachi have been victorious on 5 occasions and Lahore 4.
So far this campaign the teams have met twice. As we have mentioned, Karachi won the latest game by ten wickets just last week, with Khan and Azam blasting a combined 151 in slightly more than 17 overs. Such was the quality of the Karachi batting that even the mercurial Shaheen Afridi left with measly figures of 0/37.
Just four days earlier, Lahore came out on top in an 8-wicket win. This came in spite of an unbeaten knock of 80 from Alex Hales, who was let down by costly bowling from teammates including Imad Wasim and Umer Khan. Ben Dunk top scored in this match, smashing 99 off just 40 balls including a ridiculous 12 sixes.
Clearly, the even nature of the head to head between these two sides is yet another factor that makes this semi-final too close to call.
The venue for this Tuesday’s match will be Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, a known chasing venue. What’s more, with a great pitch expected all around, it is fully expected that whoever wins the toss will elect to bat second.
It may be worth considering that this game will be played merely hours after the first semi-final between Multan and Peshawar, so the pitch will likely not be quite as pristine as many hope. Whether or not this plays into the captains’ decisions regarding the toss remains to be seen, yet do not be shocked if either Wasim or Akhtar spring a surprise and elect to place trust in their fast bowlers.
The climate in Lahore is set to be perfect for a huge day of cricket. Forecasts predict 27 degrees and close to zero chance of rain. This will no doubt be perfect for the likes of our pick for top batsman Babar Azam, who will look to read the bowling to a tee.
|Batsmen||Fakhar Zaman, Sohail Akhtar, Babar Azam, Sharjeel Khan|
|All-Rounder||Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim|
|Bowlers||Shaheen Afridi, Umaid Asif, Umer Khan, Mohammad Amir|