LAHORE: Multan Sultans get the chance to avenge the loss at home when they meet top-of-the-table Lahore Qalan­dars in a potentially excitement-filled match of the HBL Pakistan Super League here at the Gadafi Stadium on Saturday.

Hot favourites Qalandars — having 10 points with five wins in six games so far — will be looking to continue their cruise ahead under Shaheen Shah Afridi against Mohammad Rizwan-led Sultans, second with eight points after four wins in six games of PSL-8.

In a nerve-wracking PSL-8 opener held on Feb 13, defending champions Qalandars had upstaged Sultans by just one run at the Multan Cricket Stadium

Had Sultans in their previous match of this season not suffered a stunning defeat to Karachi Kings at the National Stadium, Karachi on Feb 26, they would have been equal with the Qalandars with 10 points.

Having won convincingly their last three matches at home against Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators, Qalandars will surely want to carry on their golden run in the six-team league.

Sultans, other than their surprising 66-run loss to Kings, have done pretty well in PSL-8 so far.Opener Rizwan, who is the league’s top scorer to date with 358 runs averaging 89.50, has been his team’s inspiration. The wicket-keeper/batter also has South African batting heavyweights Rilee Rossouw (225) and David Miller. If Sultans are to challenge red-hot Qalandars in today’s game, then Riawan’s opening partner Shan Masood will need to strike form with the bat. The southpaw has collected just 137 runs (averaging 22.83) in the ongoing league.

Sultan’s paceman Ihsanullah, who is leading fast bowler of PSL-8 with 14 wickets, will be a real threat to Qalandars. Sultans also have another effective pacer in Abbas Afridi who has claimed 10 wickets, followed by Usama Mir (nine).

For Qalandars their main batters are aggressive opener Fakhar Shah (239) and Sikandar Raza who played a match-winning 34-ball 71 against Gladiators in the last match.

While Qalandars cancelled their scheduled practice session on Friday, Sultans held it at the LCCA ground.

About his own performance, the right-armer said he always tried to give his best whenever he got a chance.

Meanwhile talking to reporters, Sultans’ paceman Anwar Ali said though Qalandars were in great form his team would try their best to end their unbeaten run today.

“Our team is also playing very good cricket and it would not be easy for the home side to win,” the pacer said.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2023

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