KARACHI: There is something different with the current Islamabad United side in the HBL Pakistan Super League. Propensity of bouncing back from seemingly tough situations when they had appeared lost on occasions has become their hallmark.
Mohammad Sami, the former Pakistan speedster, is generally a shy character by nature all through his career. As the team leader of the reigning champions, he is proving himself to be anything but inspirational. But there is no lack of commitment from the seasoned campaigner who had a chequered international career after a sensational eight-wicket Test debut in New Zealand way back in March 2001.
Now the PSL reaching the business end of the competition, Sami still believes that despite United’s topsy-turvy road to the playoffs with five victories in 10 preliminary-round matches — the last sealing them a place in Wednesday’s Eliminator 1 most probably against Karachi Kings — they can go all the way to retain the title they won here at the National Stadium last year.
“We had struggled to find the right combination for most of the competition this time. But I can tell you that as a team we are peaking at the appropriate time,” Sami told Dawn a day after United decimated Lahore Qalandars by 49 runs after piling up the highest PSL total of 238-3, overhauling 204-3 made by the Qalandars versus Multan Sultans in Sharjah several weeks ago, with Cameron Delport scoring a breathtaking 49-ball century -- the quickest in the event’s history.
“In a tournament such as this, the secret to success is how much fresh your players are. And when you have to play 10 matches in the league stage, the planning has got to be spot on to have a go at the title.
“It was incredibly electrifying to be playing again in Karachi last night. The [Karachi] crowds were brilliant and this aspect was sadly missing during the games in the UAE. Crowds are important at any sporting occasion and both teams thoroughly enjoyed playing to the gallery, even though the ground on Saturday was not completely filled up.”
Sami felt elated at winning a crunch game because in case of defeat United would have been relying on other results to go their way.
“It was a match we had to win at all costs. The lads were brilliant despite the fact that Luke Ronchi was dismissed on the first ball of the game. But credit to Cameron, Asif Ali and Chadwick Walton.
“We lost Ronchi off the first ball but then Delport and Asif batted superbly and the total was great,” said Sami. “And then Faheem Ashraf was simply magnificent with the ball [taking a career-best 6-19].”
Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2019