After opening the Abu Dhabi leg days earlier, Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United are set to replay this fixture. In their first meeting of the tournament, Islamabad had done a fairly decent job, struggling with the bat but still managing to post 143-9.
They had then managed to command a controlling position and victory was within their sight when Lahore needed 16 off the final over. This was when Rashid Khan became a new Lahore hero, smacking a trio of fours and eventually getting his team over the line.
Rashid again made the difference in the next match, taking five wickets and breaking the back of Peshawar Zalmi middle-order.
It’s clear that if Islamabad need to get something out of this match, they will have to keep the Afghan superstar in check.
Islamabad batting, especially their top order, was wobbly in their defeat to Lahore. But just when critics were ready to make assumptions about that they are and what they aren’t, they followed that game with a thumping 10-wicket victory over the hapless and listless Quetta Gladiators.
The capital city side dominated all facets of the game, first reducing Quetta to just 133 all-out before a Colin Munro shellacking got them a dominant win.
Lahore will, of course, pose a different challenge than Quetta but Islamabad have shown that they can never be counted out.
Islamabad’s star allrounder Faheem Ashraf continues to remain sidelined and will miss this match.