Hales storm but Shadab a shout

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Peshawar Zalmi v Islamabad United
Thursday 24 February, 14:30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Zalmi in form

Zalmi finished third in the ladder, a Super Over success against Lahore Qalandars in their final game meant they actually finished level on points for second spot.

They actually won their final four matches, which suggests they are the form team. However, they batted first in all of them and we are aware of the toss bias in the Lahore leg.

Liam Livingstone and Sherfane Rutherford are both out of the play-offs. Does that weaken them? On numbers Livingstone was a disaster, averaging 9.7 and striking at 111. Rutherford hit decent late runs and a rapid pace. Ben Cutting, Usman Qadir and Sohail Akhtar have all been ruled out due to Covid.

Probable XI: Haris, Zazai, Kamran Akmal, Haider Ali, Shoaib Malik, Talat, Amad Butt, Wahab Riaz, Usman, Umar, Irshad Iqbal,

Hales returns

Islamabad United have been handed a major boost by the surprise return of Alex Hales. The opener had left the tournament due to bubble fatigue, coinciding with an almost-disastrous loss of form, and his availability bolsters a depleted squad.

Paul Stirling, Colin Munro and Rahmanullah Gurbaz are all out. Hales could form an exciting opening partnership with Will Jacks.

Most importantly Shadab Khan, their top wicket-taker and runscorer, is likely to be fit after injury. It should mean the United batting line-up has less of a makeshift feel.

Possible XI: Jacks, Hales, Shadab, Dawson Azam, Danish Aziz, Asif Ali, Faheem, Waqas, Wasim, De Lange

Pitch report

The Lahore leg of the competition has been curious because what we learned from the Karachi half has been deemed irrelevant. In the first part bat dominated ball in both innings and there was a whopping toss bias for the chaser.

The opposite has been true at the Gaddafi Stadium. Ten out of 15 have been won by the team bating first. And although the first-innings average has been 178, the chaser has really struggled. In only four games have both teams passed 170 or more.

These two are the most expensive bowling units left in the tournament. Both attacks go at a shade higher than nine an over. Zalmi have scored at 8.7 an over and United nine.

Previously in the tournament they produced a humdinger with Zalmi’s 206 edging out United’s 196. ZAlmi’s 168 in Karachi wasn’t enough in the first meeting.

This all points to runs. We should be able to go over the runs par line at 170.5 (same mark before the off in the qualifier on Wednesday) at 2.01/1.

Zalmi need to bat first at the odds

We were keen on Zalmi to take the spoils in this one. They won two more games than United for example and their place in the play-offs was never threatened. But Hales’ involvement curbs our enthusiasm. At 1.845/6 we would like the toss bias to be on side. Whoever bats first has an advantage particularly with more than 170 very likely.

Tops value

There’s some value on the top Zalmi bat market. Mohammad Haris has been a sensation from his four matches, striking at 190. He is 7/2 third favourite and he will open. For United we expect either Shadab or Liam Dawson to bat at No 3 so 5/1 and 15/2 respectively is value. Bet the markets here

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