Champions Islamabad take on beleaguered Lahore

Qalandars finished bottom last time around but will be hoping they can stop United’s in-form side


Nabil Tahir February 11, 2017
Haddin was the man of the match after a quickfire half-century. PHOTO COURTESY: PSL

KARACHI: Defending champions Islamabad United take on Lahore Qalandars in their match of Pakistan Super League’s second edition on Saturday in Dubai.

United go into the match high on confidence, having followed up their title-winning campaign in the first season with a superb seven-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi in the opener.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin was once again the man of the hour as his 39-ball 73 helped Islamabad chase down a steep 175-run total. Islambad had 18 overs to get to their target, after rain accounted for two overs once Peshawar had made 190 in their 20 overs.

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Despite their superb performance, Misbahul Haq will be disappointed with the performance of his bowlers  and former Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal admits he needs to improve in the upcoming matches.

“I was able to take a wicket [of England skipper Eoin Morgan] on a good delivery which I personally liked but I gave away way too many runs. I have to improve upon that and concentrate on how to stop the batsmen from hitting boundaries,” he said. “Singles don’t matter in this matter but boundaries do; we have to restrict the batsmen.”

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Javed confident Lahore can down Islamabad

Meanwhile, Lahore Qalandars director Aqib Javed is confident his team can topple the in-form Islamabad juggernaut, especially taking heart from the way his bowlers performed against last year’s runners-up Quetta.

“Our young players are in good form while our international stars have also made our team stronger this time around,” he said. “Irfan bowled brilliantly and he is a good find for Qalandars.”

Islamabad United gear up for title defence

However, Javed knows better than to take his opponents lightly. “Islamabad are the defending champions and they performed really well in the opening match. They have the ability to bounce back from any averse situation,” he said. “They showed this last year when they started poorly but impressed in the latter stages. They showed that again against Peshawar, where they seemed down and out but ended up winning the game. However, we are a strong side and will do our best against Islamabad.”

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