PSL 2019: Match 1, Islamabad United vs Lahore Qalanders - Preview and Playing XI
Islamabad United and Lahore Qalanders - two sides who had contrasting 2018 campaigns are set to face each other in the opening clash of the 2019 Pakistan Super League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday, February 14.
Islamabad United will begin the 2019 season as defending champions of Pakistan's premier T20 event. They were flawless during last season and won seven of their 10 group games to clinch the top spot in the league standings, before thrashing Peshawar Zalmi in the final.
Luke Ronchi ended last year campaign as the top run scorer in Pakistan Super League. The wicket-keeper batsman smashed 435 runs with five fifties and the management will expect a similar show from the right-hander.
Islamabad can also boast of solid international experience in Ian Bell and Cameron Delport. Both batsmen are considered as reliable T20 batters and are capable of changing the direction of the game on their own.
Faheem Ashraf took 18 wickets in 2018 season to seal the top spot in the wicket charts. He has been in good form in international cricket as well. Spinners Samit Patel and Shadab Khan will be the skipper's key operators during the middle-overs. Captain Mohammad Shami possesses a lot of experience under his belt and will aim to clinch early breakthroughs in the Power Play overs.
Expected Playing XI
Sahibzada Farhan, Luke Ronchi (wk), Ian Bell, Cameron Delport, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Samit Patel, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Rumman Raees and Mohammad Sami (c)
Unlike Islamabad, Lahore Qalandars had a forgettable season last year wherein they won just three of their ten league matches to finish at the bottom of the table. As a result, they have made few notable changes to their squad.
Lahore's most eye-catching deal during the PSL draft was securing the services of AB de Villiers. With a revamped squad, the franchise will certainly hope for a turnaround in their fortunes this season.
AB de Villiers is extremely destructive in T20 cricket. He was in good form during his short BPL stint. The South African star scored 247 runs in his six outings for Rangpur Riders, including a match-defining century against Dhaka Dynamites.
Another noteworthy signing they made was Brendon Taylor. The Zimbabwe batsman has been in solid form in T20s and he scored 210 runs in his six innings for Khulna Titans in BPL 2019.
The likes of Fakhar Zaman and skipper Mohammad Hafeez are clean strikers of the cricket ball. One may expect them to make things tough for the Islamabad bowlers.
Shaheen Shah Afridi is one of the most talented youngsters in Pakistan at the moment. He was also among the wickets in both of his T20I matches against South Africa. Hardus Viljoen was a surprise package during the T10 league where he picked up 18 wickets at an average of one wicket per over.
Lahore also have a reliable spinner in Yasir Shah, who is known for picking wickets at crucial moments.
Expected Playing XI
Mohammad Hafeez (c), Fakhar Zaman, AB de Villiers, Brendan Taylor (wk), Haris Sohail, Carlos Brathwaite, Haris Rauf, Hasan Khan, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hardus Viljoen.
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