DUBAI: Legendary Kumar Sangakkara and skipper Shoaib Malik inspired HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) debutants Multan Sultans to a stroll in the park as they humbled defending champions Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets on Thursday night.
After a glitzy PSL 3 opening ceremony, the real action at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Multan nonchalantly cruised home as Sangakkara led the 152-run chase with a sublime 51-ball 57 featuring three fours and two sixes before Malik provided the finishing touches with a classy 42 off 30 deliveries.
The skipper, appropriately enough, ended the entertainment for a sizeable turnout by hoisting Hammad Azam over square leg for a six before Sangakkara collected the man-of-the-match award for his well-crafted contribution.
“I think there was a bit in the wicket when we bowled upfront. So we needed to be patient in the chase. I thought Shoaib was just outstanding in finishing the game,” the ex-Sri Lankan captain remarked at the post-match presentation.
“He’s such a great player and he did the job for us. Overall, we have a good mixture of young talent and experience that could go all the way.”
Multan lost Ahmed Shehzad in the second over for a duck but recovered through Sangakkara and Sohaib Maqsood to open a 14-run difference at 43-1 in the six-over powerplay.
But Sangakkara and Malik, having played in 429 T20 matches between them, held off Peshawar to make it a memorable night for Multan.
Earlier, Malik had no hesitation in bowling first on a pitch having fair tinge of grass. Sohail Tanvir got the new franchise to the best possible beginning by conceding only a single before his new-ball partner Mohammad Irfan’s steep bounce forced Kamran Akmal to balloon a simple catch to midwicket in the second over.
Irfan then struck again in his next over when Junaid Khan took a fine catch, diving forward at long leg to see the back of Tamim Iqbal. The double strikes badly dented Peshawar to the extent that they could only collect 29 runs in tournament’s first powerplay.
The Lahore-born South Africa’s leg-spinner Imran Tahir marked his PSL debut in style despite being hoisted twice for sixes by Dwayne Smith, who then was smartly held by West Indian compatriot Kieron Pollard while trying to clear the boundary again.
At 57-3 at the halfway point, Peshawar were going nowhere, having been successful in getting two verdicts overturned upfront on the first use of Decision Review System (DRS) in this league after both Tamim and Smith were originally adjudged out.
The experienced Mohammad Hafeez and his Pakistan team-mate Haris Sohail soaked up 35 legitimate deliveries together in adding 44 — the highest partnership of the innings — before the much-needed acceleration was provided by Sammy. The former West Indies captain bludgeoned three successive sixes, two of them off a wayward Sohail Tanvir including a remarkable short-arm jab that sailed into the crowd over the long on boundary — in an 11-ball 29.
The towering Mohammad Irfan, who generated steep bounce, was the pick of the Multan bowlers with two for 19.
Tamim Iqbal c Junaid b Irfan 11
Kamran Akmal c Viljoen b Irfan 0
D.R. Smith c Pollard b Imran 24
M. Hafeez c Sohaib b Junaid 54
Haris Sohail c Sohail b Viljoen 14
D.J.G. Sammy c Sangakkara b Sohail 29
Hammad Azam not out 3
C.J. Jordan not out 1
EXTRAS (LB-5, W-5) 10
TOTAL (for six wkts, 20 overs) 151
FALL OF WKTS: 1-4, 2-22, 3-57, 4-101, 5-132, 6-150.
DID NOT BAT: Wahab Riaz, Ibtisam Sheikh, Mohammad Asghar.
BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 4-0-36-1 (1w); Mohammad Irfan 4-0-19-2 (3w); Junaid Khan 4-0-30-1; Imran Tahir 4-0-37-1; Viljoen 4-0-24-1 (1w).
K.C. Sangakkara c Kamran b Wahab 57
Ahmed Shehzad c Hammad b Wahab 0
Sohaib Maqsood c Jordan b Asghar 21
Shoaib Malik not out 42
K.A. Pollard not out 21
EXTRAS (LB-8, W-2, NB-1) 11
TOTAL (for three wkts, 19.1 overs) 152
FALL OF WKTS: 1-7, 2-54, 3-106.
DID NOT BAT: Saif Badar, Sohail Tanvir, G.C. Viljoen, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Imran Tahir.
BOWLING: Jordan 4-0-31-0 (1w); Wahab Riaz 4-0-19-2 (1nb, 1w); Mohammad Asghar 4-0-18-1; Hammad Azam 3.1-0-33-0; Ibtisam Sheikh 3-0-31-0; Sammy 1-0-12-0.
RESULT: Multan Sultans won by seven wickets.
UMPIRES: Ahmed Shahab (Pakistan) and R.T. Robinson (England).
TV UMPIRE: R.E.J. Martinesz
MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Mahanama (Sri Lanka).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Kumar Sangakkara.
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2018