DUBAI: Islamabad United justified their status as the defending champions launched the HBL Pakistan Super League campaign with a five-wicket defeat of Lahore Qalandars in the opening fixture of the season 4 late on Thursday night.
Luke Ronchi — the top run-getter with 435 in 11 games last year — started off well with 17-ball 27 with a six and four boundaries but became one of three wickets to fall in the sixth over bowled by Rahat.
Chasing 172 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Islamabad romped home with four deliveries to spare as Asif Ali bludgeoned a 19-ball 36 with three sixes and two boundaries and his Pakistan team-mate Faheem Ashraf 23 off 11 balls, including the winning runs when the left-hander effortlessly hoisted Mohammad Hafeez into the midwicket stand for a huge six.
Lahore thought they had done enough to end their wretched luck when Rahat Ali grabbed three wickets in the sixth over to leave the champions struggling at 49-3. But the left-arm paceman was smashed two sixes by the big-hitting Asif in the 18th over. The unbroken partnership between Asif and Faheem, yielding 59 in just 26 balls, condemned Lahore — who finished bottom of the piles in all three previous editions — to another demoralising result.
Lahore were in with a chance of turning the tables at the midpoint since Islamabad still needed 103 from 10 overs despite Hussain Talat making a 30-ball 37 with three fours and a six.
Hussain and Cameroon Delport, who made 24 with two sixes, added 55 for the fourth wicket before Asif and Faheem, who was later named man-of-the-match, provided the finishing touches.
Another key factor behind Lahore’s poor show in the field was fast-emerging Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, who delivered four wicketless overs for 45.
Earlier, the capacity crowd welcomed A.B. de Villiers for the first time in PSL. After initial struggle the South African great blasted two exquisite boundaries before smashing a six off Hussain but a brilliant catch by Phil Salt cut short his 17-ball innings of 24 as the right-hander attempted to whack seamer Waqas Maqsood.
Mohammad Sami’s first match as Islamabad skipper began in spectacular fashion when his decision to field first backfired as Fakhar Zaman cut loose with a polished 65 from 44 balls with six fours and three sixes.
The left-handed Fakhar and Sohail Akhtar (37 off 30 balls, four fours and one six) launched Lahore innings in great style as the openers put on 97 inside the opening 11 overs before Islamabad were able to claw back with a flurry of wickets in the middle overs.
Fakhar Zaman c Rizwan b Shadab 65
Sohail Akhtar c Ronchi b Faheem 37
A.B. de Villiers c Salt b Waqas 24
A.P. Devcich run out 14
B.R.M. Taylor lbw b Delport 2
C.R. Brathwaite c Hussain b Faheem 6
Mohammad Hafeez not out 5
Yasir Shah run out 7
Shaheen Shah Afridi lbw b Sami 2
EXTRAS (LB-2, W-2, PEN-5) 9
TOTAL (for eight wkts, 20 overs) 171
FALL OF WKTS: 1-97, 2-129, 3-137, 4-147, 5-155, 6-160, 7-169, 8-171
DID NOT BAT: Haris Rauf, Rahat Ali
BOWLING: Mohammad Sami 3-0-30-1; Patel 2-0-19-0; Waqas Maqsood 4-0-25-1; Shadab Khan 4-0-34-1 (1w); Faheem Ashraf 4-0-24-2; Hussain Talat 1-0-20-0; Delport 2-0-12-1
L. Ronchi c Haris b Rahat 27
Rizwan Hussain c Hafeez b Rahat 15
C.S. Delport c Hafeez b Rahat 24
P.D. Salt c sub b Rahat 4
Hussain Talat c Rahat b Brathwaite 37
Asif Ali not out 36
Faheem Ashraf not out 23
EXTRAS (LB-3, W-7, NB-1) 11
TOTAL (for five wkts, 19.2 overs) 177
FALL OF WKTS: 1-45, 2-45, 3-49, 4-104, 5-118
DID NOT BAT: Shadab Khan, S.R. Patel, Mohammad Sami, Waqas Maqsood
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 4-0-45-0 (1w); Rahat Ali 4-0-29-4 (2w); Brathwaite 2-0-25-1 (1w); Yasir Shah 4-0-30-0 (2w); Mohammad Hafeez 3.2-0-28-0; Haris Rauf 2-0-17-0 (1nb, 1w).
RESULT: Islamabad United won by five wickets.
UMPIRES: R.K. Illingworth (England) and Rashid Riaz (Pakistan)
TV UMPIRE: Shozab Raza (Pakistan)
MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Mahanama (Sri Lanka)
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Faheem Ashraf
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019