Match 17 of the 2021 Pakistan Super League (PSL) sees the Peshawar Zalmi play their first game of the resumption against the Lahore Qalandars at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on a double-header Thursday.
The Qalandars were in action yesterday, so they will play back-to-back games in PSL 2021. They left it late against Islamabad United, but a late blitz from Man of the Match Rashid Khan took them over the line off the final ball of the run-chase. Sohail Akhtar's side are now at the top of the PSL 2021 points table with four wins from five games and a net run rate of +0.077.
The Zalmi, meanwhile, will want to get the second leg of PSL 2021 off to a winning start. They will be without as many as five players - Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Liam Livingstone, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Ravi Bopara and Saqib Mahmood. This England-dominated contingent has been replaced by three West Indians in Fabian Allen, Rovman Powell and Fidel Edwards.
If the Karachi Kings fail to beat the Multan Sultans in the first game of the double-header, the Zalmi could move to the top of the table. The Qalandars, on the other hand, will look to extend their lead at the top of the PSL 2021 points table and seal a playoff spot at the earliest.
PSL 2021: PES vs LAH Match Prediction
Bopara and Kohler-Cadmore scored a combined 221 runs for the Zalmi in PSL 2021, and in their absence, Powell has a lot of work to do. He won't be without support, though. Young stars Imam-ul-Haq and Haider Ali are part of the franchise, even if they didn't set the Karachi leg of PSL 2021 on fire.
Experienced professionals like Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal must step up to the plate consistently, while Sherfane Rutherford - who has scored 129 runs in five innings at an average of 43 and a strike rate of 151.76 - will look to keep up the good work.
The Zalmi bowling attack, led by captain Wahab Riaz, will be severely hit by the absence of Mahmood. The English pacer was the only bowler to hit double figures in wickets with 12 scalps at an economy rate of 7.98, and Edwards will have to take a leaf out of his book to succeed in Abu Dhabi. Also, in a franchise that lacks a quality all-rounder or two, new signing Allen might have a major role to play.
The Qalandars weren't anywhere near their best yesterday. After restricting Islamabad to 143/9 in their 20 overs, thanks to a three-wicket haul from new acquisition James Faulkner, the batting lineup nearly made a meal of the chase with none of the batsmen anchoring the innings.
But if Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez - who scored a combined 38 runs off 40 balls in Match 15 of PSL 2021 - come to the party, the Qalandars will be almost impossible to stop. Muhammad Faizan and Ben Dunk, too, struggled to find their timing and will have an eye on spending some time in the middle.
Fatigue might come into the picture for the Qalandars, while the Zalmi will be significantly fresher. But Akhtar's men will have a far superior understanding of the conditions on offer in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, several Qalandars players are due a good performance after the first game and nothing can be said about how the Zalmi will turn up on the night.
Wahab Riaz's side will feature in PSL 2021 for the first time in several months, and will make numerous personnel changes as well. It's tough to pick them for this encounter. And although the Zalmi could easily further their case for a playoff spot if they gel well as a unit, the Qalandars can be backed to continue their winning momentum.
Prediction: Lahore Qalandars to win
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