MULTAN: Karachi Kings’ players attend a practice session at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Thursday, ahead of the Pakistan Super League match against Multan Sultans.—APP
MULTAN: Karachi Kings’ players attend a practice session at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Thursday, ahead of the Pakistan Super League match against Multan Sultans.—APP

MULTAN: Buoyed after their victory against Peshawar Zalmi on Wednesday night, Multan Sultans will look to make the most of their home advantage when they take on Karachi Kings in the HBL-Pakistan Super League on Friday.

The six-wicket win over Zalmi in the first match of the PSL played at the Multan Stadium propelled the Sultans to the top of the standings, level on four points with Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators but ahead of the duo thanks to a superior net run-rate.

The Kings, who have played a game less, however are looking to move to four points with a victory against the Sultans.

“They are coming off a big win against Zalmi but tomorrow is a different game, a different day,” Kings skipper Imad Wasim said at a news conference on Thursday.

“We’re not under any pressure because of their [Sultans’] position in the standings. The season has just started and there will be a lot of movement in the standings in the days to come.

“I believe my team has the potential to win tomorrow. We’ve seen close matches in the competition so far as all the teams are very competitive.”

Imad said he was counting on opener Sharjeel Khan, who is making a return to the PSL after three years following spot-fixing charges against him, to give his team an explosive start.

“Sharjeel has come back after a long time out but his confidence level is very high and he has the talent to change matches,” said Imad.

Imad can also count on Pakistan captain Babar Azam, the world’s highest-ranked Twenty20 batsman, to give his team solidity in batting.

While Babar is the team’s leading run-scorer so far, contributions from others have been very little. The Kings have concerns over their bowling with star fast bowler Mohammad Amir having claimed just one wicket in the opening two matches while all-rounder Imad has also struggled so far.

The Sultans, on the other hand, have no such concerns. Twenty20 specialist Sohail Tanvir gave a vintage bowling performance against Zalmi, picking up 4-13 while upcoming paceman Mohammad Ilyas and leg-spinner Imran Tahir have also impressed. Batting contributions have been good as well with Rilee Rossouw, Zeeshan Ashraf, James Vince and captain Shan Masood among the runs.

“We want to make full use of playing at the Multan Stadium with a win against the Kings,” Sultans paceman Ali Shafiq, who is yet to make an appearance in this edition of the PSL, told a news conference on Wednesday.

“I haven’t got the chance of playing so far this season but I’ll give my best whenever I’ll be called upon.”

Teams:

MULTAN SULTANS: Shan Masood (captain), James Vince, Rilee Rossouw, Moeen Ali, Ali Shafiq, Bilawal Bhatti, Ravi Bopara, Imran Tahir, Junaid Khan, Khushdil Shah, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Ilyas, Wayne Madsen, Rohail Nazir, Usman Qadir and Zeeshan Ashraf (wicket-keeper).

KARACHI KINGS: Imad Wasim (captain), Babar Azam, Iftikhar Ahmad, Sharjeel Khan, Alex Hales, Mohammad Amir, Chris Jordan, Aamir Yameen, Cameron Delport, Umaid Asif, Dan Lawrence, Mohammad Rizwan, Ali Khan, Usama Mir, Arshad Iqbal, Umar Khan.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2020