Islamabad United spinners Samit Patel and Zafar Gohar masterminded Peshawar Zalmi’s downfall in the 21st fixture of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Dubai on Friday, picking seven wickets between themselves to power their side to a 26-run win over the defending champions.
With that victory and two more points in the bag, United, the league’s inaugural champions, soared to the top of the PSL 2018 points table, supplanting Multan Sultans.
After Zalmi won the toss and opted to field first, JP Duminy and the in-form Luke Ronchi opened the batting for United, whereas Hasan Ali and Umaid Asif shared the new ball for the defending champions.
Following a slow start, things livened up in the third over when Hasan Ali was smacked for a trio of fours, with Ronchi in particular looking in the mood for the third straight game.
The kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman departed in the fifth over having scored 27 runs — 24 of which came through boundaries, which tells a lot about how well he was seeing the ball.
In fact, before Wahab Riaz set him packing, he had hit the southpaw pacer for back-to-back-to-back boundaries, which explains the hostile reaction his dismissal elicited.
With one-quarter of their overs gone, United were 39-1, going at a decent rate of almost eight an over.
Duminy and Hussain Talat carried on for the capital city side, with the latter dropped twice in the eighth over bowled by Liam Dawson.
Of course, when that happens it often results in instant punishment. This instance was no exception.
Halfway through their innings, United were 78-1 and eyeing a total in excess of 180, at least.
Duminy is a decent player of spin — something the young Ibtisam will completely agree with.
Talat was bowled out by Riaz in the 13th over, which meant he got to do his increasingly annoying celebration.
Duminy then took the charge, hitting three maximum in the span of seven deliveries. By the end of 15 overs, United were 126-3.
But the 16th over belonged to Asif Ali, who smacked two 6s and a 4 to Umaid Asif. The rangy pacer, clearly a new-ball bowler, should struggle at death in theory and that he did.
Even Hasan Ali felt Asif's wrath.
And Riaz too.
And when Riaz finally removed Asif, who by then had scored a magnificent 24-ball 45, that godawful celebration was seen again.
In the end, United finished with 182-5 — the highest score of PSL 2018; Duminy contributed a 54-ball 73 laced with four 6s.
The younger of the Akmal brothers has been having a horrid PSL 2018 but things hasn't been too bad for the elder one: Kamran. In fact, he looked in good touch early on in the Zalmi innings, hitting three 4s and a solitary 6 on his way to a 17-ball 22 before he missed a fuller Samit Patel ball and was out leg before wicket.
By the end of 5 overs, the defending champions were 41-1 and there was everything to play for.
The run chase seemed on until Patel struck twice more, removing Andre Fletcher and Dwayne Smith on the first two ball of the 8th over to put Islamabad United in the driving seat and then some.
With half their overs gone, Zalmi were 69/3 and in need of a further 114 runs.
Eleventh and 12th overs saw the triple dismissals of Khushdil Shah, Dawson Darren Sammy as United tightened their grip on the game.
The last two were both bowled out, both bamboozled by away-spinning deliveries by the 23-year-old Zafar Gohar.
Patel made Hasan Ali his fourth victim of the night as Zalmi lost their seventh wicket.
In the 14th over, Gohar proved that anything Patel could do, he could as well, removing Mohammad Hafeez. Remarkably, all eight wickets until that point were taken by spin bowlers.
The tail showed some resistance but in the end Zalmi fell 26 runs short of their target.
Peshawar XI: Kamran Akmal, Andre Fletcher, Dwayne Smith, Mohammad Hafeez, Darren Sammy, Liam Dawson, Khushdil Shah, Wahab Riaz, Umaid Asif, Hasan Ali, Ibtisam Sheikh
Islamabad XI: JP Duminy, L Ronchi (wk), Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt.), Zafar Gohar, SR Patel, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, ST Finn, Mohammad Sami