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In-form Gladiators face Sultans’ challenge as PSL shifts to Sharjah

Sarfaraz Ahmed-led unit are currently placed at the top of the table

PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter/@PSL

Quetta Gladiators will face Multan Sultans in eight match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), in Sharjah on Wednesday, February 20.

After the first seven matches in Dubai, the tournament now shifts to the historic Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The Gladiators are coming into the match on the back of two consecutive wins, which keeps them at the top of the league table.

Twice runners-up Quetta Gladiators won the battle of arch-rivals with a convincing six-wicket win in their opening game against Peshawar Zalmi to start to their campaign for the elusive title in Dubai .

In their second match, left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir grabbed four wickets and former Australian Shane Watson struck a masterful half century to lead Quetta’s seven-wicket rout of title holders Islamabad United on day four of the PSL.

Multan Sultans opened their account in the PSL by upsetting the title holders Islamabad United with a hard-earned five-wicket win on day three in Dubai on Saturday.

The Sultans had earlier lost their opening game of the tournament against Karachi Kings by seven runs.

Bearing in mind their performances in the tournament so far, Gladiators’ batting department will once again look towards the likes of opener Shane Watson and middle-order batsman Umar Akmal to come up with goods.

Watson played a brilliant 81-run knock in the previous match against Islamabad United while Akmal has played two crucial knocks, 75* and 44, to provide impetus to the innings.

A slight worry for Gladiators would be the form of opener Ahmed Shehzad, who has scores of 0 and 2 in the first two matches, but they would hope that the 27-year-old rediscovers his lost form in the upcoming matches.  

The Sarfaraz Ahmed-led unit also have a multidimensional bowling attack with the likes of seasoned T20 campaigner Sohail Tanvir, leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed and the frugal slow left-arm variety in shape of Mohammad Nawaz.

On the other hand, the Sultans would be glad to see the experienced players in the side, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik, leading from the front.

Afridi’s impactful bowling, 4-18, and brisk cameo towards the backend of the innings led the side to victory. Meanwhile Malik has scores of 31 and 52 in the first couple of matches and his form with bat will be a refreshing side for the Sultans camp.  

Like Gladiators, Sultans have also struggled for solid opening partnerships. Shan Masood has been paired with a new partner at the top of the order — Thomas Moores in the first match and Johnson Charles in the second one — and it will be interesting to see whether they will opt for a new opening pair for the third consecutive match.

The Sultans struggled to dominate with the ball, especially during the first match against Kings, but they bounced back strongly with a good show against United.

The experience of left-arm pacer Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan coupled with the impressive young pacer Ali Shafiq can trouble any batting lineup. Shahid Afridi’s presence in the spin-bowling department also adds potency to the bowling attack.