Top dogs Multan and Lahore meet in bid to secure final berth

Multan Sultans v Lahore Qalandars 

Pakistan Super League Qualifier, February 23 

Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore 

(2.30pm UK) 

It’s the rampant defending champs versus this writer’s pre-tournament tip – or first in the group versus second – for the right to advance direct to Sunday’s final. 

The loser gets another chance on Friday in Eliminator 2, when they face the winner of Thursday’s Eliminator 1 between Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United. 

I expect that, whoever wins tomorrow’s game, both the Sultans and the Qalandars will end up making it through to the final. 

The Sultans have proven their undoubted quality by winning nine of their 10 group fixtures to finish top of the ladder, while the Qalandars have the best bowling attack. And that is even without Rashid Khan, who has departed for international duty with Afghanistan. His replacement Fawad Ahmed oozes class. 

I’m like Natalie Imbruglia on this one…Torn! 

While my pre-tournament tip of Lahore to win their maiden title remains very much alive and kicking, it is difficult to ignore the Sultans’ superb run of form. 

It really is a head versus heart call. 

If you forced my hand, I would side with Lahore at the pre-match 11/10 with bet365 to win this one, but I was expecting the odds to be a touch more generous against marching Multan and would advise waiting to see if they drift after the toss or in play. 

Lahore were the only side to beat Multan in the group stage a fortnight ago, at this venue, which is their home ground and has produced some brilliant atmospheres.

But let’s look elsewhere for some pre-match bets. 

Tournament run-fest is slowing up, oppose total match runs

Bet365 have priced up a match total of over or under 336.5 runs to be scored in the match at 5/6.

Rewind a week ago, and I would have been saying over every single time. After all, runs have been flowing pretty much all the way through this tournament. But now, the signs are pointing towards under.

Five of the last six games at the Gaddafi Stadium have all finished under that 336.5 mark, likely owing to a couple of things. The pitches do look to be slowing up a touch, while matches meaning more with qualification on the line has likely increased pressure.

I would again take under that mark for this one.

Rilee Rossouw and Tim David to be Multan’s top run-scorer both come in at an eye-catching prices

As soon as I looked at the Sultans’ top run-scorer market for this match, two prices stood out. The 7/1 betfair are offering South African left-hander Rilee Rossouw and the 9/1 they are offering on Tim David. 

Now, these two are a long way behind their two openers Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood, who have 479 and 457 runs respectively. 

Rossouw and David, both powerhouses, have scored 195 and 251 runs. 

But 7/1 and 9/1 seem like massive prices on their two next best players, especially when you think that Lahore’s attack could easily take a couple of quick wickets with the new ball and eliminate Rizwan and Masood from the running. 

Both men have posted two fifties in the competition, with one of Rossouw’s coming in his last innings. 

He didn’t actually bat at all in their last match. But I read that as his side having already qualified and them giving others such as David Willey a chance to find form if required.