The Pakistan Super League (PSL 2020) is all set to get underway again following a several month long COVID-enforced break. Multan Sultans will be clashing paths with Karachi Kings in the PSL 2020 Qualifier today, and the winner will seal a berth in the PSL 2020 final.
Multan Sultans topped the PSL 2020 Points Table and were exceptional throughout the entirety of the round-robin stage. The Shan Masood-led side were deemed favorites to lift the silverware, before the playoffs were deferred in March. The Sultans ran through their opponents in a majority of the matches and their data-centered approach towards decision-making was lauded in cricketing circles.
Among the four franchises that are involved in the playoffs set-up, the Multan Sultans have copped the most severe impact of COVID-enforced travel restrictions, as well as the international commitments that players are supposed to fulfill in the ongoing season.
The Sultans brought in initial replacements through James Vince and Mahmudullah for their two spin-bowling all-rounders, Moeen Ali and Fabian Allen. However, both replacement players have unfortunately contracted COVID-19 and will not be featuring in the PSL playoffs. Joe Denly and Brendan Taylor have now been slotted into the Sultans’ squad almost as an emergency measure.
Their skipper Shan Masood is currently Sultans' top-scorer in the tournament, and will be ably supported by Rilee Rossouw at No 2. Their experienced, star-studded bowling line-up has been exceptional with the likes of Sohail Tanvir and Imran Tahir amongst their highest wicket-takers.
Multan Sultans also have Zeeshan Ashraf and Khushdil Shah in the mix, both of whom impressed during the recently-concluded National T20 Cup.
Karachi Kings, on the contrary, were ranked second as far as the PSL 2020 Points Table is concerned. Their PSL 2020 campaign has been marred with immense grief following the passing of their head coach, Dean Jones. In his absence, Wasim Akram will be acting as an interim coach of a team that has been deemed by many as the best side on paper in PSL 2020.
Karachi Kings' strength has been the stability at the top of the order with the likes of Babar Azam, Alex Hales, and Sharjeel Khan not only providing the early impetuses but also accumulating lots of runs.
Babar Azam, their premier batsman, currently has the most runs in PSL 2020 with 345 runs compiled at an average just a shade under 50. Alex Hales has played a key role and currently averages in the vicinity of 59 in this year's edition.
Apart from the right-handed English batsman, the Kings have also got a very competent contingent of overseas cricketers with the likes of Chadwick Walton, Cameron Delport, and Wayne Parnell in the mix. Chris Jordan, who will be representing England’s white-ball sides in South Africa, is not available for the PSL 2020 playoffs.
Another prominent feature of Karachi Kings' side is the abundance of international-quality local players that they have up their sleeves. The playoffs offer a chance for the likes of Mohammad Amir to make a mark and reclaim stakes in the shortest format. Mohammad Rizwan and Imad Wasim are also in the squad and will be itching to play a role in dragging Karachi Kings to their first-ever PSL final.
PSL 2020 Qualifier 1 Predicted Playing XIs
Multan Sultans Probable XI: Adam Lyth, Shan Masood (C), Rilee Rossouw, Zeeshan Ashraf (WK), Ravi Bopara, Khushdil Shah, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Ilyas/Usman Qadir, Imran Tahir, Mohammad Irfan
Karachi Kings Probable XI: Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Alex Hales, Cameron Delport, Chadwick Walton (WK), Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim (C), Wayne Parnell, Mohammad Amir, Arshad Iqbal/Umer Khan, Umaid Asif.
PSL 2020 pitch and weather report
The weather is expected to remain dry and mild for the entirety of the game with the temperatures to fluctuate around 30 degrees Celsius. The average first innings score in the last five games contested at the National Stadium in Karachi have been just 150. However, the pitch is expected to play true and a runs spree could well be on the cards.
Where and when to watch PSL 2020 in India?
Qualifier 1 time: Match begins at 3.30 PM IST.
TV channel: Eurosport