Islamabad take on beleaguered Lahore

Published: March 8, 2018
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Below par: Both Islamabad and Lahore have struggled for form this season and know the importance of the two points. PHOTO COURTESY: PSL

Below par: Both Islamabad and Lahore have struggled for form this season and know the importance of the two points. PHOTO COURTESY: PSL

DUBAI: Islamabad United are looking to climb up the table as they take on winless Lahore Qalandars in the 18th match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on March 8.

Islamabad have three wins in their five games but would still be looking nervously over their shoulders if they fail to win the game against Lahore.

However, veteran fast-bowler Muhammad Sami is confident Islamabad have what it takes to run through an under-pressure Lahore batting side that has woefully underperformed so far.

“We have studied them in all their matches. We have devised a plan to target their weakness in batting that will help us restrict them to a low score,” Sami told The Express Tribune. “We have been working on a strategy for the past three days and we have enough in our arsenal to surprise the other team.”

Aqib rues Lahore’s careless approach

Sami warned his teammates against complacency though. “We have to be aware that Lahore have suffered five straight defeats and they will also be looking for a win, so we can’t afford to not be on our toes throughout the game,” he said.

The pacer also hailed the impact of Waqar Younis, who joined the Islamabad camp after fellow Sultan of Swing Wasim Akram left for Multan Sultans. “Working with Waqar has taught me a lot,” he said. “I have implemented several strategies and varieties that Waqar has taught me and they have been key to my success. He not only teaches but also listens to my plans and makes them even more effective.”

Sami further enthused about the Islamabad think-tank. “The entire management is really helpful,” he said. “Playing under Misbah is always a pleasure, the way he handles the game gives a player a lot of confidence. We are ready to take on Lahore and climb further up the table.”

Aqib Javed hoping for better showing

Lahore Qalandars coach Aqib Javed recently said he had never seen a team perform as poorly as his own team was but the former pacer is hoping for a better showing against Islamabad.

“The team has been underperforming in the last five matches and has been losing in the same way, but we have now worked on a lot of things and the players have understood their mistakes,” he said. “You have seven batsmen in the team and you expect that at least one of them will play a big knock in five matches but that has not been the case. At least one batsman out of the top three needs to stay there till the end if we are to succeed.”

Aqib refused to write off his team just yet tough. “You expect professional batsmen to go and play according to a plan,” he said. “We have big names such as Brendon McCullum, Fakhar Zaman and Umar Akmal who have a lot of experience and ability.”

The Lahore coach refused to blame the bowlers though, saying that they haven’t been afforded enough runs to defend.

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