Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United
Pakistan Super League Eliminator 2, January 25
Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
We’re down to the final two games in the Pakistan Super League.
Defending champions Multan Sultans are already through to Sunday’s final having won Tuesday’s Qualifier with Lahore – a clash between the top two teams from the group stage.
Now Lahore get a second chance against Islamabad, who finished fourth in the group before knocking out third-placed Peshawar Zalmi in yesterday’s first Eliminator.
Outsiders Islamabad, twice winners of the PSL, will be full of confidence.
They are best priced 11/10 with a number of bookmakers, including bet365, while my tournament tip Lahore are 4/5 at Coral.
Having been boosted by late inclusions Shadab Khan – more about him later – and Alex Hales from injury and unavailability, they bucked the recent trend of matches in Lahore and beat Zalmi by five wickets chasing 170.
Yesterday was only the fifth game out of 17 played at Lahore in PSL 2022 that the team chasing a target has won. It really has been a bat first venue.
Captain marvel Afridi to get amongst the wickets
Lahore skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi has been extremely consistent without really lighting up the tournament yet; 15 wickets in 11 appearances with a best of 3-40.
Here is a left-arm quick who is his country’s bowling star and the ICC’s male cricketer of the year for 2021. He is a seamer with four T20 five-wicket hauls to his name, and he is still only 21.
His stats stand up amongst his competitors in this competition.
He is the joint second most successful seamer wickets wise behind Multan’s Shahnawaz Dahani (16) and the most economical of any seamer who has taken at least 10 wickets, conceding 7.54 runs per over.
He is a bowler who thrives on the big stage, and I’m predicting today will be one of those days where he puts in a special performance and betters his series of one and two-wicket returns.
Afridi is 9/4 with Betfair to Lahore’s top bowler, something I expect him to be, and 8/1 to be player of the match.
As the scores have decreased over the last week, bowling performances have contributed to player of the match awards in each of the last five games, with all-rounder Faheem Ashraf also hitting 19 not out yesterday to add to 1-15 with the ball.
I would be siding with Lahore to win – as I said earlier in the week, they’re my pre-tournament tips – and generally player of match awards go to someone on the winning side.
Betfair are also offering 20/1 on any bowler to take five wickets in the match. As I say, Afridi has done that four times in his career, and he wouldn’t be your only shot.
This is surely worth considering if, like me, you fancy Afridi to shine.
Islamabad far from one-man team, but they could do with Shadab Khan firing
United skipper Shadab Khan, the leg-spinning all-rounder, has been outstanding in this edition of the PSL.
Despite missing three games through injury up until yesterday, he is the leading wicket-taker with 18 from eight appearances, the 10th leading run-scorer (254) and joint second on the sixes hit list with 17.
Now, Betfair have him priced up at an appealing 5/1 to hit a six, take a wicket and take a catch.
He has only taken four catches so far, but given he is averaging a shade over two wickets and two sixes a game then I’m more than happy to take on this punt and hope he is in the right place at the right time to snaffle a catch.