The Kings have been hit hard by the absence of key players for the Abu Dhabi leg of the PSL, although they've managed to acquire capable replacements. Martin Guptill, Najibullah Zadran and Thisara Perera will play for the franchise instead of Colin Ingram, Mohammad Nabi, Dan Christian and Joe Clarke.
The Sultans too have lost important components of their PSL 2021 setup. Chris Lynn, James Vince, Adam Lyth and Carlos Brathwaite are no longer part of this year's tournament, with the West Indies-dominated contingent of Shimron Hetmyer, Johnson Charles, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Obed McCoy taking their place.
With three wins in five games and a net run rate of +0.697, the Kings are flying high on their quest to defend the PSL title at the top of the table. The Sultans have had woefully different fortunes, and are placed one rung above dead last with only one win from five PSL 2021 games.
In the previous meeting between the two sides in PSL 2021, the Kings ran out seven-wicket winners. On paper, it seems like the Kings are favorites for this clash against the Sultans. But anything can happen in a game of T20 cricket, especially in a league that has shifted venues and brought in several new players.
PSL 2021: MUL vs KAR Match Prediction
The Karachi Kings batting lineup has been extraordinary in PSL 2021. As expected, Pakistanan captain Babar Azam is the team's leading run-scorer, with 258 runs in five innings at an average of 86 and a strike rate of 138.7, and second-highest overall.
Azam is closely followed by teammate Sharjeel Khan, who has 200 runs in five innings at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 170.94, on both the team and overall charts. The duo also had support from Nabi and Clarke, who scored a combined 295 runs, but neither player will be part of the remainder of PSL 2021.
In the bowling department, almost every bowler has contributed for the Kings. Arshad Iqbal is the leading wicket-taker with six scalps at an economy rate of 7.93, while Waqas Maqsood (four) and Mohammad Amir (four) aren't too far behind. Christian's part-time medium pace will be missed, but Perera should be able to compensate for the Australian's absence.
The Sultans have been a one-man show in the batting department in PSL 2021. Mohammad Rizwan has tallied 297 runs from five innings at an average of 59.4 and a strike rate of 140.09 to be placed atop the run-scoring charts. And with the team's second-highest run-getter Vince no longer part of the side, Rizwan will have to put the team on his back even more frequently.
Sohaib Maqsood must step up, as do the new batters acquired by the Sultans. Hetmyer, Charles and Gurbaz are extremely dangerous in shortest-format cricket and will need to be at their best if Rizwan's side are to turn their campaign around.
But the Sultans' worries don't end there. Shahnawaz Dhani is the only player who's part of the current squad and has taken more than two wickets in PSL 2021. The 22-year-old pacer has nine scalps to be placed third on the wicket-taking charts, but even he has leaked runs at an economy rate of 10.33.
Brathwaite was the only other bowler to do reasonably well. And while his replacement Obed McCoy is an exciting young talent, he might have too much on his plate in what has been a disappointing Sultans bowling attack overall.
The pitch at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium wasn't easy to bat on in the previous game between the Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United. The pacers found some assistance early on, with changes of pace and length variations keeping the batsmen in check.
The Kings seem to be the runaway favorites - even though they've lost key men, they have capable replacements and in-form players. The Sultans will need their new signings to play out of their skin if they are to challenge the defending champs. But even then, Rizwan may not have a dependable bowling attack to keep his team in the game.
Prediction: Karachi Kings to win