Lahore Qalandars have been dealt a major injury scare ahead of the restart as their hard-hitting batsman Ben Dunk copped a ball to his mouth during catching practice, opening up a nasty cut on his upper lip. The Qalandars management, however, is confident that the bald Aussie would recover in time for Wednesday’s game.
The break and the restart could affect the composition and balance of most rosters as some foreign stars that were available in Feb-March are not around this time. But this affects Qalandars very little as their core is based on local stars or talent they themselves have cultivated. Thus, they remain arguably the best placed side for the restart and could be the favourites to win it all.
The Qalandars have improved rapidly over the past campaign but their record against two-time champions Islamabad is still woeful. In fact, Islamabad have won all of their last five meetings. Even beyond the recent head-to-head, Lahore have an atrocious record against the capital city side, having beaten them just twice in 10 meetings for a win ratio of just 25 per cent.
On the flip side, Islamabad’s winningest record is against Lahore, for whom they are pretty much a bogey team. Even last year when Islamabad had suffered their worst campaign and crashed out after finishing last, they had done the double over Lahore. In fact, in their last meeting, they had thrashed Lahore by 71 runs, which is enough demonstration of how comfortable the Shadab Khan-led side feels against Sohail Akhtar’s men.
That said, the side that Islamabad have beaten so regularly over the past half a decade was nothing like the transformed band of brothers Lahore are right now. And it will be foolish on Islamabad’s part to take this fixture lightly.
Islamabad United will have the services of Australian Usman Khawaja, who was born in Islamabad and is considered a bit of their local lad. The lefty is not a T20 specialist, which is why his pick up in the redraft is not going to cause a massive difference.