Keep Cutting and Faheem on side

Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators
Monday 1 March, 14:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

United confused

Islamabad were looking strong, organised and well-balanced. But after a chastening defeat to Peshawar Zalmi - and arguably the worst performance of the tournament - they are suddenly not so bullish.

United were bowled out for just 118 after 17.1 overs. It was a horrible effort and perhaps made worse by them cramming in an extra batsman. The decision to open with Paul Stirling, making his first appearance of the campaign, and Alex Hales was right - but only if Phil Salt is dropped. He is not a No 3.

Retaining Salt meant that Lewis Gregory, a match winner against Multan, was left out. They would be better served bringing him back in.

Possible XI Hales, Stirling, Shadab, Faheem, Talat, Asif Ali, Iftikhar, Gregory, Hasan Ali, Gohar, Wasim.

Quetta quiz

Quetta are yet to win. But they are also yet to chase. So we can’t go overboard about how poor they are (even if we suspect they’re the worst team in this).

It’s three defeats out of three and before United’s collapse to Zalmi they had managed the top two worst performances. They were bowled out for 121 in their first outing against Karachi and then went round the park trying to defend a massive 199 against Zalmi. They have the worst economy rate in the tournament.

They have had a reshuffle in personnel. Out has gone Chris Gayle, who has returned to West Indies, while Tom Banton has been axed. Faf Du Plessis and Cameron Delport are the replacements.

Possible XI Ayub, Delport, Du Plessis, Sarfaraz, Azam Khan, Cutting, Nawaz, Steyn, Mahmood, Hasnain, Shinwari

Pitch report

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will be aware that the toss bias in the PSL at Karachi’s National Stadium has continued. All ten matches so far (not including Sunday’s late match) have been won by the chaser. So it is now 17 wins in the last 19 for the chaser at the venue.

What is surprising about that trend is that runscoring has been getting easier. Big totals are being chased. In the last seven games more than 178 has been busted once and more than 190 four times. This is reversing a historic trend for low scores -more than 160 has been breached nine times in 22.

Could Quetta down trend?

Islamabad are 1.804/5 and Quetta are 2.01/1. That is more like the sort of prices you would expect for such a heavy toss bias. Despite United being favourites, the market is (rightly) wary of Quetta’s weaknesses. If one side is going to be the first to bust the trend, it will probably be them.

Quetta, however, may well feel confident. They have won their last four against Islamabad, three of them chasing. A late blast from Ben Cutting at No 7 got them home in a chase in February, the Australian hitting 42 off 17.

Tops value

On the subject of Cutting, do we keep the faith at chunky odds? He has been moved up the order from the lower reaches earlier in the tournament. Previously 19/1 has been available with Sportsbook. We’re happy to play again at those numbers starting from 16s, recognising they’re way too big for a man of his ability.

Likewise Faheem Ashraf for Islamabad. We thought we were in the money with him batting at No 4 against after tipping him at 25s. But he didn’t come off. If we can get the same sort of price again (from 18 up) we’ll wager. Shadab Khan has also been underrated. He batted at No 5 last time so we would expect an increase from 6s.

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