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While many would not consider Islamabad United to be fortunate after they became the first team ever in the history of the Pakistan Super League to qualify for the playoffs with eight points, they could not have been more fortunate after getting into the playoffs against a depleted opponent. They will be up against Peshawar Zalmi, who did a pretty good job in the league stage, and this upcoming match is expected to be nothing less than a cracking contest. The match between the two sides is to be played at the Gadaffi Stadium, Lahore on the evening of Thursday, 24th February 2022.
Just at the time they qualified for the playoffs, Peshawar Zalmi received a major blow with four of their members testing positive for Covid-19. Given that a few of their players in Liam Livingstone, Sherfane Rutherford, and Tom Kohler Cadmore were already unavailable for the eliminator, the players testing positive for the virus could be a deadly blow. They have roped in Benny Howell for the remainder of their matches and Zalmi would want him to be at his best right from the word go.
Peshawar Zalmi did a fantastic job in the league stage with a league stage, winning six of their matches and losing just four. They are coming off a fantastic outing in their last match wherein they defeated Lahore Qalandars in the Super Over to grab two important points.
Even though they are missing some of their key overseas players, they have a pretty good repo of local players. A lot will depend on the likes of Shoaib Malik, Hussain Talat, and Mohammad Haris for Zalmi to do well with the bat. On the bowling front, the onus will lie with Wahab Riaz. If their familiar players are able to do the job, beating Peshawar Zalmi is going to be an incredibly difficult task.
Mohammad Haris, Kamran Akmal, Yasir Khan, Shoaib Malik, Haider Ali, Benny Howell, Hussain Talat, Wahab Riaz, Khalid Usman, Salman Irshad, Majid Ali.
Islamabad United were at one time one of the better-placed sides to qualify for the playoffs at the end of the first half, but they seemed to completely lose the plot in the second half of the group stage. After being at the second spot on the ladder for quite some time, Islamabad United eventually finished at the fourth spot with just eight points to their name.
The primary reason for United's dismal run in their last few matches was the absence of Shadab Khan, who has now recovered from the injury he sustained earlier. Apart from that, there aren't many concerns that Islamabad United would be having, especially with Alex Hales set to return back to join his side.
All in all, with the return of Shadab Khan, Islamabad United does look a side lot stronger than they looked in their last few matches. They would need their star players to fire in this upcoming match and if they can do that, getting past Islamabad United is going to be a steep climb.
AD Hales, Will Jacks, Shadab Khan, Azam Khan, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Liam Dawson, Hasan Ali, Athar Mahmood, Zahid Mahmood, Waqas Maqsood.
This is undoubtedly the most important match that these two sides would be part of in the tournament up until now. Although they both were not as good as they would have wanted to be, Peshawar Zalmi were better in the fag end of the group stage. Having said that, they are without their full-strength squad contrary to Islamabad United, who pretty much have almost everyone available. Considering that and the other factors stated above, we would be placing our bets on an Islamabad United win and so should you.
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