An unbeaten 42-ball 85-run innings by Sohaib Maqsood helped Multan Sultans defeat defending champions Peshawar Zalmi in the 16th fixture of the Pakistan Super League 2018 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
The Sultans, after being asked to bat first, sent the usual pairing of Ahmed Shehzad and Kumar Sangakkara to open their innings, whereas Sameen Gul and Umaid Asif shared the new ball for Zalmi.
Early on, the classy Sri Lankan took the backseat in favour of his young partner but came alive in the fourth over, hitting Hasan Ali for a six and a four.
The right-left combo, having taken their time to get settled, now sought acceleration, with both the batsman dispatching Wahab Riaz for a boundary each in the fifth over. By the end of that over, the Sultans were 40-0 and off to a fine — if not a flying — start.
Liam Dawson's sixth over (just one conceded) quieted down the Sultans outburst but Sangakkara pulled Asif for another maximum in the next over.
The southpaw, however, attempted an out-of-character rash stroke to a fuller delivery and had his stumps shattered by the excellent Dawson. Mind you, the English left-arm spinner was the man of the match in Zalmi's crushing win over Lahore Qalandars last time around.
Dawson bowled another tight over in the 10th as the Sultans were 62-1 halfway through their innings, with Shehzad and Sohaib Maqsood at the crease.
Maqsood lived dangerously in the 12th over but managed a rare boundary against the Briton.
He did look much better against Gul in the 13th over, hitting the pacer for two 4s and this pretty looking 6 over extra cover.
Maqsood who, over the years, had disappointed many for not living up to their expectations, finally made himself useful, pulling Hasan for this six.
A mix-up on the first ball of the 15th saw Shehzad depart but it was more a blessing in disguise as Shehzad had taken 37 ball for his 37 runs and is certainly not suitable for slogging in final few overs. His replacement, Shoaib Malik, meanwhile, lives for that stuff.
With one-quarter of their overs gone, the Sultan were 113/2.
In the 17th over bowled by Asif, Maqsood threw his bat at literally everything, hitting three straight boundaries, including two sixes.
With Maqsood taking charge, Malik couldn't impact the game the way he often does, contributing just 13 runs before giving a catch to Hasan off of Asif's bowling.
Maqsood, meanwhile, was not showing any mercy to Zalmi bowlers, smashing six after six to whoever dared come at him.
In the end, the Sultans finished with 182 runs on the board for the loss of three wickets in their allotted 20 overs. Maqsood finished with an unbeaten 85 off 42 balls and hit seven 6s in his magnificent boundary-laden innings. The innings of the tournament until that point? No doubt!
Zalmi sent Kamran Akmal and Andre Fletcher to face the bowling of Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Irfan.
The opening over produced 10 runs for Zalmi before Fletcher connected for a monstrous 114-metre six that would've cleared any boundary in the world.
The West Indian, however, barely managed to clear 10 metres on the opening delivery of the third over as the ball nicked his bat and went straight into the safe palms of Sangakkara.
With a massive target to chase, the batsmen were under pressure to accelerate from the get-go and that pressure reaped another wicket as this time Irfan had Akmal caught.
By the end of 5 overs, Zalmi were 31-2 and only second-favourites in the contest.
Dwayne Smith and Hafeez carried on for a while but their 28-run partnership was broken in the ninth over when the former was sent back to the dugout by his fellow West Indian: Kieron Pollard.
Halfway through their innings, Zalmi were 65-3 and in need of 119 more runs to win the game.
Hafeez, the captain, was still in the middle and fuelled Zalmi's hopes, especially with hits such as these.
The Sultans were having a great night — a fact soon proven by a diving catch from Shehzad, who is not even known for his fielding; Riki Wessels was the one to depart.
Both Hafeez and Dawson went after Pollard in the 15th over, at the end of which Zalmi were 116-4 and in need of 68 runs with just 30 ball remaining.
Dawson, impressive with the ball, showed he is no slouch with the bat in his hands either.
He developed a liking for Junaid Khan, although the runs he plundered off southpaw's bowling were balanced out by Imran Tahir's tight 17th over.
Juanid's suffering at Dawson's hands continued in the 18th — an over that produced 17 runs and kept Zalmi in the hunt.
What Junaid couldn't do, Tanvir promptly did, dismissing Dawson on the first ball of the 19th over as the Sultans tightened their grip on the game.
Tanvir then showed why he is one of the most sought-after T20 bowlers in the world, removing Hammad Azam in the same over.
The unorthodox left-arm quick finished with three wickets and so did Pollard, who also bowled the final over as Zalmi finished at 164-8, falling 20 runs short of their target. Hafeez contributed 56 to his team's losing cause.
Maqsood was deservedly named the man of the match.
Peshawar XI: Kamran Akmal, Andre Fletcher, Dwayne Smith, Mohammad Hafeez, Riki Wessels, Liam Dawson, Hammad Azam, Wahab Riaz, Umaid Asif, Hasan Ali, Sameen Gul
Multan XI: Ahmad Shehzad, Kumar Sangakkara, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Saif Badar, Sohail Tanvir, Imran Tahir, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan