A run of three wins in a row was halted by a no-result against Karachi Kings but a place in the knock-out phase beckons if they can return to winning ways
Rain might have saved Multan Sultans from falling to a second defeat in the Pakistan Super League group phase, but it could still prove to be a hugely significant moment in their campaign.
Before the inclement conditions led to a no result, Sultans were in dire straits. Having been put in to bat, five of the top six couldn’t reach double figures. Moeen Ali’s 29 – ended by a stunning Chris Jordan catch – was the only positive to take from an abject display.
That was until Shahid Afridi came to the party. Clearly seeing a stage to dominate, the former Pakistan captain energized the Lahore crowd with 35 from 17 balls. Had he hung around for much of the 19 balls which remained when the covers came on then a decent total could have been on the cards.
Yet, in the end, the weather looked to have saved Sultans from a damaging defeat. They are still odds-on to progress to the sharp end of the competition, but they can ill-afford a repeat of such a poor batting display.
Islamabad United are only two points adrift of Sultans but have won one of their last five matches. Victory in their final two group matches might not even be good enough to finish in the top four.
They arrive into this clash with the physiological edge over Sultans, having prevailed in their reverse fixture earlier in the tournament. On that occasion, a half-century from Zeesham Ashraf and 42 for James Vince gave Sultans 164 for 8 to defend.
It was a chase Islamabad completed with ease – indeed the mind boggles what total they could have come up. Luke Ronchi and Colin Munro put on 92 for the first wicket before Dawid Malan came into to polish off the chase with 20 balls remaining.
Unless you’re Peshawar Zalmi, who have not adapted well to conditions, Rawalpindi has favoured strong batting line-ups. Six scores of 170 or above have been recorded there in six completed matches. A leveler could come in the form of some more rain, which could lead to a truncated contest.
A surface with a true bounce may offer Ali a chance to make an impression on this competition after a tough start to the PSL. Single figure scores sandwiched the 65 he struck against Kings before in the rematch he smacked 29 though without a great deal of control.
Imran Tahir will again be a key figure with the ball, particularly if the pitch – coupled with the tempting boundaries – is advantageous the opponents’ batting line-up. He has already claimed six wickets in this competition with his deceptive flight a constant challenge.
While Sultans have enjoyed committed support back at home, leading to three convincing victories, not since their opening game against Lahore Qalandars have they won away from home turf.
It is a habit they’re going to have to get into if they want to take their place in the Qualifier – which provides direct access to the final. All four remaining group matches take place away from the Multan Cricket Stadium meaning one of the best-supported sides in the competition must quickly become good travellers.
Courtesy by : thecricketer