Just four days after their last meeting, league-leaders Multan Sultans and fourth-placed Peshawar Zalmi come head to head in the first semi-final of this season’s PSL. In a winner takes all clash, the Sultans will be heavily favoured to progress after a stellar season under the guidance of captain Shahid Afridi. With that said, Peshawar Zalmi will have plans of their own following a narrow defeat to the Sultans just a few days ago.
After Karachi Kings beat Islamabad United at the weekend, Peshawar were guaranteed a place in the play-offs. With star man Kamran Akmal firing on all cylinders at the top of the order and Wahab Riaz offering pace in attack, Zalmi will certainly fancy their chances in this mouthwatering semi-final.
If they are to progress, Peshawar must overcome the Sultans’ trickster in chief Imran Tahir, with the South Africa international returning to the city of his birth for this semi-final match-up. So far this season, Tahir’s highly effective Legbreak googly has perplexed all manner of batsmen, leading to an impressive total of ten wickets in seven innings. For this reason, our top tip is Imran Tahir to come out of this semi-final as the Sultans’ top bowler.
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With both teams losing key players as a result of concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, predicting the starting XI for either is a process fraught with uncertainty. Sport all over the globe has been interrupted by the pandemic that has also seen the IPL 2020 date postponed.
Multan Sultans decided to rest key players for their final game of the league stage, having already secured top spot. The decision to omit big names including Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir and Imran Tahir proved fatal with the Sultans suffering a huge defeat to Lahore on Sunday.
With that said, this key group should now all be fresh and raring to go for this huge semi-final clash. Top-order batsmen James Vince and Rillee Roussow have both left Pakistan in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus, so Multan will have to look to the likes of Zeeshan Ashraf and Shan Masood to score the runs.
As for Peshawar, the situation looks even more dyer. In total, Zalmi will be without five of their first-choice XI due to growing worries over the coronavirus. These include Tom Banton, Liam Livingstone, Liam Dawson, Lewis Gregory and Carlos Brathwaite, as well as coach James Foster. The team has struggled with organisation all year and the latest round of disarray will be a familiar story to fans and players alike.
Having scraped into the semi-finals on run-rate alone, Zalmi will need domestic stars like Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali to have the game of their lives if they are to progress.
In their two meetings so far this season, Multan Sultans came out victorious on both occasions.
As we have mentioned, the pair met last week in a fiercely contested match that saw the Sultans edge a win by just 3 runs. This came thanks to the bowling exploits of Ali Shafiq, who took the key wickets of Shoaib Malik and Haider Ali in a blitzing over that cost only two runs. The close nature of this most recent tie will no doubt be a factor in the minds of players from both sides.
Earlier in the league phase of this season, the teams faced off at Multan with the Sultans gaining a much more comprehensive victory of 6 wickets. Sohail Tanvir was the star that day with the fast bowler claiming 4 wickets in just 3.3 overs for the home side. With the bat, Rillee Roussouw top-scored with an impressive 49. Honourable mentions should go to Peshawar’s Haider Ali and Wahab Riaz who made heroic efforts with bat and ball respectively in this match back in February.
Although Roussouw will not be available this time around, the Sultans will remain clear favourites to win Tuesday’s match and progress to the final.
Gaddafi Stadium is a known chasing venue and whoever wins the toss will be expected to bat second. With that said, Shahid Afridi may see the loss of key batsmen Roussouw and Vince as detrimental to his sides chances and therefore choose to bat first, putting his faith in the likes of Sohail Tanvir and Imran Tahir to blitz the Zalmi batsmen.
With good weather predicted and a quality pitch seeming all but certain, big-hitting batsmen including Akmal for Peshawar and Ashraf for the Sultans will be raring to go.
The weather in Lahore is set to be great for Tuesday’s big day of cricket, with 27 degrees and sunny the overall outlook. This will play into the hands of our pick for top bowler Imran Tahir, who will hope to use the dry, hot conditions to get the ball moving every which way. As so often happens, pitch conditions can be such a key factor when cricket betting on the subcontinent.
|Batsmen||Ali Shafiq, Shan Masood, Haider Ali|
|All-Rounder||Shahid Afridi, Moeen Ali, Sikandar Raza|
|Bowlers||Sohail Tanvir, Imran Tahir, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz|