Bets to keep an eye on
Apart from the fast bowling talent, another hallmark of Pakistan cricket is their unpredictability – something that is evident in PSL as well.
Over the first few seasons, three sides –Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar – made their names as the most consistent, which the three combining to make the first four finals and completely shutting out bigger city franchises and arch-rivals Karachi and Lahore.
Just when reputations were set and precedents made, the trademark unpredictability factor reared its head and the sleeping giants Karachi and Lahore finally woke up last season.
Lahore, in particular, which had finished dead last in the first four editions of the tournament, were languishing at the bottom again when they suddenly caught fire, going all the way to the final, where they were defeated by Karachi.
Meanwhile, perennial contenders Quetta and Islamabad finished fifth and sixth respectively – something few had anticipated considering their stellar track record.
It’s this topsy-turvy nature of the PSL that necessitates caution on part of gambling folks.
That said, smart gamblers can still find value and make money.
Currently, the favorites to win the tournament are Lahore Qalandars, who finished dead last in all four editions of the competition from 2015 to 2019. They finally came alive last season and made the finals, and this year, they have emerged a force to be reckoned with, thanks to the late career transformation of their veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez as well as their stacked bowling unit.
The Qalandars can be backed at odds of 3.60.
After Lahore come the defending champions Karachi Kings (4.0), who also have no real weaknesses in their side. Their main strength though is their opening pairing of Pakistan captain Babar Azam and tainted but hard-hitting Sharjeel Khan.
For value bet, Islamabad United at odds of 5.0 also deserve another look. The two-time champs have one of the deepest batting line-ups, with Hasan Ali coming to bat at number 10. Their camp has been hit by Covid-19 that has sent two of their players into isolation but, nonetheless, they should still be feared.
Peshawar Zalmi, at 5.63, are also nothing to sleep on but the other two teams – Multan Sultans and Quetta Gladiators – look flawed and even though they have the most lucrative odds (7.38 and 10.5 respectively), they should be overlooked.
For individual match-ups, you can keep an eye on the March 4 matchup between Lahore and Islamabad. The capital city side is finding their rhythm and at decent odds of 1.97, they are an interesting play.