Multan Sultans v Karachi Kings
Thursday 10 June 14:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Sultans a bowler shy
Multan have suffered double churn in their squad after the two mini drafts because of the postponement. Unsurprisingly they appear to be struggling for balance.
Out went Chris Lynn, James Vince, Carlos Brathwaite and Adam Lyth to the initial postponement. Then after a rejig they brought in Obed McCoy and Mahmudullah. Neither are available while Shahid Afridi has been ruled out with injury.
It means they are struggling for six bowling options. Kushdil Shah may be required to turn his arm over if they need to pinch some overs.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz, the Afghan wicketkeeper, has come in and will compete with Johnson Charles to open the batting with leading tournament runscorer Mohammad Rizwan. Shimron Hetmyer is a decent capture, though, to add middle-order power.
Possible XI Rizwan, Gurbaz, Maqsood, Rossouw, Hetmyer, Kushdil, Sohail Khan, Qadir, Imran Tahir, Imran Khan, Dani
Karachi are the holders and league leaders on run rate. But we are taking them on to retain their title after some questionable recruitment work following postponement.
They have lost their entire middle-order which did so well in the first half of the campaign and have failed to adequately replace them. Specialist finishers Joe Clarke, Dan Christian, Mohmmad Nabi and Colin Ingram have been replaced by opener Martin Guptill, Chadwick Walton, a former opener reinventing himself in the middle, Thisara Perera and Najibullah Zadran, the Afghan. It’s a big downgrade.
What is so odd about the capture of Guptill is not just his poor record in Asia (striking at 113) but the fact the Kings need another opener like a hole in the head. In Babar Azam and Sharjeel Khan they have the best opening combination in the tournament. Do they now split that up to accommodate Guptill?
Possible XI Babar, Sharjeel, Guptill, Walton, Zadran, Imad Wasim, Perera, Amir, Arshad, Ilyas, Waqas
Before the opening game on Wednesday, in the last 25 matches at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium 17 sides batting first busted 160 or more. Nine teams have busted 170 or more. There was also a 13/8 split in favour of the side chasing in the Indian Premier League last autumn.
One factor which could be important is the heat because the tournament is being played in fierce temperatures. We also need to have a watching brief with regard to dew. When will it turn up? Certainly in the matches starting later at 17.00 it could be difficult for both teams.
The innings runs market could offer the best value. This game pitches two teams who, before postponement, were leaky in the field. Kings had an economy rate of 9 while Sultans were a touch more expensive at 9.1. Kings, however, were the most explosive with the bat in the entire tournament managing a rate of 9.7 runs per over.
Their power has been diminished by the loss of that middle-order so much relies on Babar and Sharjeel. A fast start could allow the new-look Kings to raze a weaker Sultans bowling unit. More than 170 with Kings batting first could be on here.
Watching brief on match odds
Kings are skinny on the Exchange to get the rejuvenated campaign off to a winning start. They are 1.738/11 with the Sultans 2.285/4.
We have to be canny on this market. Kings are likely to be in trouble without Babar or Sharjeel firing. Removing both quickly and cheaply will have Multan bang in the game. So at around the 1.9010/11 mark in-play Sultans could well be the bet.
We were hoping Sportsbook might make a rick on Gurbaz’s price to top score. But alas no. Gurbaz is 10/3 and opened in a warm-up success over Zalmi. He did make a duck, though. Rizwan has been price-boosted to 12/5. Babar, second to Rizwan on the tournament runs lists, is 9/4.
In-play value, as ever, is a great option. Kushdil looks underrated at 25s for top Multan bat even before a ball is bowled. That could get very big, very quickly.
We’re playing on the bowlers for this one, though. The out-and-out wicket-taking ability of Shahnawaz Dhani and Waqas Maqsood for Multan and Kings respectively have been missed by Sportsbook at 9/2 and 10/3 respectively.