06 November 2020
Game 7 - KCC vs PACC
The hosts KCC sit comfortably at the top of the points table with 3 wins out of 3 games. The only situation in which they would miss out on a final’s berth would be if they lose to PACC this weekend, following which both HKCC and PACC would have to win their final games, which would then bring it down to NRR. At 2.288, KCC’s NRR is fairly high, which means they would have to lose by a substantial margin to be in any danger. This could mean that KCC will rest certain key players, but one expects them to play full strength in order to avenge their defeat to PACC in last season’s PLT20.
PACC, on the other hand, are coming off a loss to HKCC, and suddenly find themselves faced with a must-win game. A loss here could be the end of the road for the defending champions, as they will then require USRC to upset HKCC on the 15th, along with needing to beat DLSW by a substantial margin on the same day.
In terms of team composition – PACC’s bowlers had a rough outing against Kinchit and Coetzee last weekend, and they might look to bring in offspinner Mohammad Ishtiaq in off the bench, potentially to replace quick bowler Hassan Khan Mohammad. The batting has been decent, but no one has crossed 50 yet in two innings – Babar coming close with innings of 39 and 34. It is unlikely we will see any changes in the top order though, and PACC will back the experienced core of Yasim, Tanwir, Zeeshan and Babar to deliver when it matters.
KCC, on the other hand, are looking impossible to beat. Aizaz finally had a quiet game but Atkinson, Cox, Davidson and Pascoe all stood up and delivered match-winning performances. Ahan Trivedi wasn't even required against DLSW, such is the surplus of bowling options available to KCC! Expect them to go in unchanged.
Players to Watch Out For:
Babar Hayat (PACC): The renowned big-hitter has yet to set this tournament alight, but has batted with maturity in both innings so far. He helped complete the chase against USRC – taking his side from 12/1 to within 10 runs of the target - and stabilised the innings against HKCC – rebuilding from 9/3 before being run-out by a direct hit. A big score can’t be too far away, and this match would be the ideal time to get it.
Daniyal Bukhari (PACC): Daniyal has been a surprise package with the ball this season, bowling 8 overs at just 5.12 RPO in the two games so far. His contributions with the ball have meant that PACC can lengthen their batting lineup, and they might need every bit of that batting depth this Sunday at KCC. Daniyal may need to score some runs to go with his tight overs if PACC are to win this weekend.
Ateeq Iqbal (KCC): The canny medium pacer has quietly gone about his business so far, bowling 10 overs for only 49 runs and 3 wickets. The conditions at KCC are a good fit for his mix of cutters and seamers, and it will be interesting to see how PACC’s big hitters approach him in the middle overs.
Jason Davidson (KCC): The big Namibian fast bowler currently tops the wicket takers list, with 7 in 3 games. He has consistently delivered big wickets in the powerplay overs this season, and how the PACC top order tackles his pace and bounce could go a long way in determining the outcome of this match.
Game 8 – USRC vs DLSW DLIT
Out at TKRRG both USRC and DLSW DLIT will be looking for their first wins of the #PLT20! With two losses in two games each, not only will they be playing for pride, but they will also be playing to stay alive in the tournament. The loser of this game will stand no chance of qualifying for the Final on 22nd November, and the winner will not only have to win their final game, but also hope for other results to go their way.
DLSW have, at various points so far, batted, bowled and even fielded well, but not all at once. The bowling attack is skilful and experienced but have still conceded more extras (31 in 2 games) than any other side. The batting has shown glimpses of ability, but only Waqas Khan has crossed 50 so far, and only Aftab Hussain has crossed 10 in both of his innings. DLSW have also been guilty of dropping crucial catches and conceding vital runs in the field. They will need to shake off all this rustiness and find some consistency if they are to get back to winning ways. Dhananjay's injury in the last game could see him sit out this week and, if he is left out, it will be interesting to see who DLSW pick to replace him. They could bolster their batting by recalling Ikram Hussain to the XI, or they could go for a like-for-like replacement in young quick Asad Nawaz Khan, who played in a PL One Day game last season prior to the lockdown, but has yet to play a PLT20 match.
USRC have by and large bowled well this tournament, but their batsmen are yet to deliver. Shahid Wasif’s two innings so far have yielded just 9 runs, while the highest score by any batsman in the USRC squad this tournament is only 25! They will need a lot more from their batters if they are to pull off their first ever Premier League victory. Shahid will hope that playing against his former club will signal a turnaround in his form, and skipper Imran Arif will look to inspire his side towards an upset over an out-of-sorts DLSW side. Expect USRC to go in unchanged this game, barring any injury scares in the hours leading up to it.
The pitch at TKRRG generally plays low and slow, and the boundaries at the ground are larger than those at HKCC and KCC, which -together with the batting form of both teams- suggests we could be in for a low-scoring game.
Players to Watch Out For:
Ali Mohammad (USRC): The former KCC quick transferred over to USRC the week before their first PLT20 game, and has proven to be the pick of their bowlers so far, with figures of 4-0-15-3 in both matches. This includes the wickets of Babar Hayat, Jamie Atkinson and Aizaz Khan! He sits 2nd in the wicket-takers list right now, and USRC will look to him to make some crucial inroads.
Upul Rumesh Rupasinghe (DLSW): The wicketkeeper-batsman has formerly played for the Independents at the Premier League, and after a year off is now back representing DLSW. After an inauspicious start to the tournament, he began to find his range against KCC, hitting 3 sixes after being promoted up to number 4. He scored a century in his only innings in the Sunday Elite League this season, and has generally been solid behind the stumps, though he has missed a few tough takes while standing up. If he can find some consistency in the next two games, it will bode well for DLSW’s chances.
Ibraheem Ishaq (DLSW) – He is only 25 years old but has been playing cricket in Hong Kong for over a decade. The ‘young veteran’ has batted everywhere in the lineup, and has even played for HK in age-group cricket on the strength of his bowling! He has shown good composure at the top of the order, but will look to covert his starts into a substantial score this weekend.
Khan Akbar (USRC): Much like Ibraheem, 23-year old Akbar has been around the circuit for quite some time and has also transformed himself as a player over the years. He’s gone from being a seam bowling allrounder to a genuine top order batsman. Last season, he scored 268 runs for twice dismissed in 5 Sunday Elite League innings, with two centuries and a HS of 118. Last weekend, he scored 127* in USRC’s first SEL game of the season. His PLT20 run last season was cut short due to code of conduct violations, and this season he has yet to kick on, with just 27 runs in 2 innings. He will look to come back strongly and make a statement this Sunday.
The Hong Kong Observatory says that Typhoon Atsani is very unpredictable and so, even though a Typhoon signal is expected on the weekend, we will have to wait to see if its strong enough to keep the players off the field. In case points are shared, both USRC and DLSW will miss out on a spot in the finals. KCC will top the table and qualify for the finals, while PACC’s fate will depend on the outcome of the HKCC vs USRC game. If HKCC win that, they will get the second finals spot, regardless of how well PACC does against DLSW in their final game. But if HKCC lose, a win over DLSW will get PACC into the final!
- Yaqzaan Rajan and Nitesh Hemlani
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