Islamabad United will take on Multan Sultans in Match No. 3 of the Pakistan Super League at the National Stadium, Karachi on Sunday (February 21). Islamabad, who are the only franchise to win the PSL title twice (2016 and 2018), had a disastrous campaign last year. The Shadab Khan-led side finished at the bottom of the points table, while Multan topped the group stage but faltered in the playoffs.
Overall: Matches – 6 | Islamabad – 3 Wins | Multan – 3 Wins
Last 5 Matches: Islamabad – 2 Wins | Multan – 3 Wins
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms we come up with six different teams that could fetch crucial points.
Ground details and team combination
The first 20 matches in PSL 2021 will be held at the National Stadium in Karachi. Since the start of 2020, there have been 13 T20 matches at this venue, with batsmen scoring at an average run-rate of 8.1. While the bowling strike rate during that period has been 18.4, pacers have performed much better than spinners.
On Saturday (February 20), Karachi Kings thumped Quetta Gladiators by seven wickets in the opening encounter of PSL 2021. The Gladiators were bundled out for 121 in 18.2 overs and it was the fast bowlers who did most of the damage.
According to the data available, since 2020 at the National Stadium in Karachi, pacers have bowled 71.8% of the overs and taken 85.1% of the wickets in T20 cricket. While the fast bowlers have a bowling strike rate of 18.3 during the period, the corresponding number for the spinners is 41.1. We have got four pacers, including an all-rounder, in our XI but it would be ideal to have at least one wristspinner in your team.
Mohammad Rizwan is currently in the form of his life. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who was recently appointed captain of Multan in place of Shan Masood, managed scores of 104*, 51 and 42 in the T20I series against South Africa and even did well in New Zealand last year. Since 2019, the right-hander has scored 1087 runs at 37.48 in 38 T20 innings and is currently one of Pakistan's best T20 batsmen. On top of that, Rizwan could also get you some crucial points with his wicketkeeping.
Imran Tahir might be 41 but the legspinner is still weaving his magic all around the world. Only Rashid Khan (129) has picked up more wickets than Tahir (106) since the start of 2019 but the former has played 30 more games. Tahir has taken these wickets at a strike rate of 15.6 and an average of 17.3. The legspinner from South Africa recently featured in the Abu Dhabi T10 league, which means he is not out of match practice and could create an impact from the word go.
Alex Hales might have gone unsold in the 2021 IPL auction but the opener from England is currently one of the foremost batsmen on the T20 franchise circuit. The dynamic right-hander was the leading run-scorer in the last edition of BBL, smashing 543 runs at a strike-rate of 161. Hales was phenomenal for Karachi Kings last season, scoring 272 runs at an average of 45.33 in just seven innings. Hales however will feature for Islamabad this season and would be eager to wreak havoc, with two back-to-back T20 World Cups lined up.
Hasan Ali is high on confidence after performing brilliantly against South Africa at home. The right-arm paceman had to fight multiple injuries but made a stunning comeback in the Test series against the Proteas, picking up a ten-wicket haul in Rawalpindi. He even played one T20I against South Africa, in which he claimed two wickets and smashed a 7-ball 20*. Hasan Ali, who has taken 39 wickets in 27 T20s since 2019, will be expected to play a huge role for Islamabad in this season.
NOTE: Stats updated until 20 February 2021