February 28: Multan Sultans v Karachi Kings, Multan
Our XI: Babar Azam, Alex Hales, James Vince, Rilee Rossouw, Cameron Delport, Moeen Ali, Imad Wasim, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Amir, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Ilyas
Captain: Alex Hales
Hales scored a sluggish 29 on a tough Karachi pitch in his first PSL game this season. On a flatter deck at Multan, however, he is expected to do better. Hales has scored at a strike rate of 145.28 in the powerplay in all T20s since 2018. He strikes at 149.20 against left-arm pace while his strike rate against right-arm pace drops to 142.70 in all T20s. With three left-arm pacers in the Multan attack, Hales could score big.
Vice Captain: Chris Jordan
Jordan has been slightly on the expensive side in the two games he has played so far, but has also picked up three wickets. He is a genuine wicket-taker and on a pitch that offers assistance for bowlers with variations, he could prove effective. In all T20s since 2018, he has picked up 41 wickets in the death overs at an economy rate of 9.50 and a strike rate of just over 15.
Azam managed only 26 against Quetta Gladiators after a series of big knocks. Only Colin Munro has more runs than Azam (2742) in all T20s since 2018. Azam has scored 147 runs in three innings against Multan at an average of 49 and a strike rate of 126.70.
Rossouw finally found his touch against Peshawar after a few tough games. He scored an unbeaten 49 to take his team home. In all T20s, he has a strike rate of 142 against pace and it goes down 119.7 against spin. But since Multan might go with just one spinner, who usually operates in the powerplay, expect Rossouw to do well.
He started the tournament with a 50, but brought himself on a little too late with the ball. In the last game, though, he opened the bowling and had figures of 1 for 20. His economy rate in the powerplay in all T20s since 2017 is 6.62, the third best among spinners with at least 25 wickets.
He could play a big role for the Kings. He has had a couple of starts so far, scoring 20s in both his outings. He will be keen to play a longer innings at Multan. Delport has a strike rate of 145 in the middle overs in T20 cricket.
Sohail Tanvir was the star with the ball in Multan’s last game against Peshawar but Ilyas too made his presence felt by picking up two key wickets in the powerplay. He has an economy rate of 6.14 in the powerplay in the PSL across seasons.
Point to note
The average first-innings score at Multan in T20s since 2018 is 135. So the more bowling options you have, the better.
(Stats as on 26 February, 2020)