The Gladiators have, by far, been the worst team on display in this year's tournament. With only one win from seven games and a net run rate of -1.865, they aren't playing for much more than pride. And despite signing some decent replacements, a spate of bad luck and poor execution have meant that the Gladiators have lost both their games in the Abu Dhabi leg of PSL 2021 so far.
The Qalandars, on the other hand, are second in the PSL 2021 points table with five wins from seven games. They won their first two games in Abu Dhabi by margins of five wickets and 10 runs, before conceding their position at the summit to Islamabad United. A win would all but assure them of a playoff berth.
On paper, the Quetta Gladiators vs Lahore Qalandars PSL 2021 game seems like a mismatch. But in a league as unpredictable as this one, anything can happen.
PSL 2021: QUE vs LAH Match Prediction
Rashid Khan is the key to success for the Lahore Qalandars. The Afghan mystery spinner won the Man of the Match award in each of the first two games of the Abu Dhabi leg of PSL 2021, before bowling a rare expensive spell and finishing on the losing side against Islamabad.
But the Qalandars will take heart from the performance, which saw their new-ball bowlers make deep inroads and take the pressure off Rashid. What they won't take heart from is their middle-order batting. After Sohail Akhtar and Fakhar Zaman got the team off to an excellent start in the powerplay, none of the remaining batsmen barring No. 11 Haris Rauf reached double figures.
The astonishing batting collapse that the Qalandars fell victim to cannot afford to repeat itself, even against a team that is as low in the PSL 2021 standings as the Quetta Gladiators.
Sarfaraz Ahmed's side have seen their two most important overseas players - Faf du Plessis and Andre Russell - sidelined by scary head injuries. While the West Indian was struck on the helmet and had to be stretchered off in the first game of the restart, Du Plessis was involved in a sickening collision while fielding during the second and is suffering from minor memory loss.
But even otherwise, the rest of the team haven't covered themselves in glory. New signing Zahir Khan got his first outing in the previous game, but he couldn't turn the fortunes of a poor bowling attack around. The batting order too has failed to deliver, making it extremely difficult for the team to lift themselves out of the doldrums.
While anything can happen at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the Lahore Qalandars hold a massive edge despite their collapse in the previous game. The Quetta Gladiators will have to play out of their skin to come away with any points in Match 23 of PSL 2021.
Prediction: Lahore Qalandars to win