KARACHI: Islamabad United finally hit the roadblock in the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 on Monday as the runaway leaders during the league stage as they suffered a stunning 31-run defeat in their Qualifier to Multan Sultans who punched a direct ticket for their first-ever PSL final.
The turnaround was quite unexpected given Islamabad’s red-hot form which saw them win five matches on trot to top the standings with an unprecedented eight victories. But the two-time winners of the title in 2016 and 2018 will get another opportunity to make Thursday’s decider provided they overcome either Peshawar Zalmi or holders Karachi Kings — who were playing in Eliminator 1 at the time of filing this report — in the Eliminator 2 on Tuesday.
Faced with a tough 181-run target on a sluggish pitch as the game wore on, Islamabad were never able to recover the shock of losing in-form opener Colin Munro to the second ball of the innings as the New Zealander was cleaned up by a wily Sohail Tanvir.
The former Pakistan left-armer, adjudged player-of-the-match, bowled intelligently to return excellent figures of 3-17 while varying his pace. Barring a valiant 70 (40 balls, nine fours and one six) from Usman Khawaja, Islamabad simply disintegrated in their chase and could hardly build momentum before being bowled out for 149 in 19 overs.
Apart from scalping Munro, the 36-year-old Sohail sent back Islamabad captain Shadab Khan and Khawaja. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir and giant pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani were also amongst the wickets, while ex-Test seamer Imran Khan produced a magical moment in the field when he ran out Mohammad Akhlaq on his follow through by hitting the bull’s eye at the non-striker end when Akhlaq took one risk too many.
Earlier in the evening Multan’s innings was a sort of mixed bag, and the fact they posted a competitive 180-5 was chiefly through the heroics of Khushdil Shah when all seemed lost. The left-hander, who clubbed 42 off only 22 deliveries with five sixes as his main scoring strokes, went on rampage in the penultimate over and took left-arm seamer Akif Javed to the cleaners by hoisting four consecutive sixes — two off the leading edge, the first of which landed over the third man fence — as the shell-shocked left-armer went for 29 runs, easily the most expensive over delivered by Islamabad.
Mohammad Wasim, the other youngster, redeemed himself superbly by giving just six singles in the final over being clattered for 37 from his first three overs, mainly by Johnson Charles, who teed off twice in successive overs as the ball sailed in direction of the grass bank over midwicket.
Taking into account Multan’s potent bowling resources, Mohammad Rizwan decided that batting first would offer them better chance of attacking the formidable Islamabad batting in the chase and he was eventually proven spot on. But the captain was left crestfallen when he was gone in the second over for a duck, adjudged gloving a catch down the leg side to wicket-keeper Akhlaq after umpire Ahsan Raza had turned down the appeal. Islamabad went for the DRS which nullified the original decision.
Shan Masood (25 off 22 balls, four boundaries) and Sohaib Maqsood resurrected Multan after that early reversal by putting on 53 in 29 balls when Shadab Khan struck twice in the space of three deliveries of the eighth over by trapping left-handers Shan and Rilee Rossouw to give Islamabad ascendency.
Sohaib interspersed a well-constructed 41-ball knock of 59 with powerful strikes that fetched the Pakistan discard three sixes and a touch of deft strokes, which caught the eye as the right-hander hit seven fours and helped Charles take charge during their 40-ball partnership of 62 before the West Indian was well taken inside the mid-wicket boundary by Iftikhar off Faheem Ashraf for 41 (21 balls, three sixes and three fours).
While Khushdil and Sohail provided the much-needed flourish at the death by adding a priceless 43 runs from 20 balls, Islamabad definitely erred by opting for a predominantly seam attack after leaving out Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed as Shadab extracted generous spin during a tidy spell of 2-25.
Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Shan Masood lbw b Shadab 25 22 4 0 113.63
Mohammad Rizwan c Akhlaq b Akif 0 3 0 0 0.00
Sohaib Maqsood c Akif b Faheem 59 41 7 3 143/90
R.R. Rossouw lbw b Shadab 0 2 0 0 0.00
J. Charles c Iftikhar b Faheem 41 21 3 3 195.23
Khushdil Shah not out 42 22 0 5 190.90 Sohail Tanvir not out 12 9 1 0 133.33
EXTRAS (LB-1) 1 - - - --
TOTAL (for five wkts, 20 overs) 180 - - - --
FALL OF WKTS: 1-6 (Rizwan), 2-59 (Shan), 3-59 (Rossouw), 4-122 (Charles), 5-137 (Sohaib)
DID NOT BAT: Imran Tahir, B. Muzarabani, Imran Khan, Shahnawaz Dhani.
BOWLING: Hasan Ali 4-0-25-0; Akif Javed 4-0-50-1; Faheem Ashraf 4-0-35-2; Shadab Khan 4-0-25-2; Mohammad Wasim 4-0-44-0.
Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
U.T. Khawaja c Khushdil b Sohail 70 40 9 1 175.00
C. Munro b Sohail 0 1 0 0 0.00
Mohammad Akhlaq run out 10 9 2 0 111.11
Shadab Khan c Shan b Sohail 0 3 0 0 0.00
Iftikhar Ahmed c Rizwan b Muzarabani 16 15 2 0 106.66
Asif Ali st Rizwan b Imran Tahir 1 5 0 0 20.00
Hussain Talat c Sohail b Muzarabani 25 25 2 0 100.00 Hasan Ali c Rossouw b Imran Tahir 10 5 0 1 200.00 Mohammad Wasim lbw b Imran Khan 13 8 1 1 162.50 Faheem Ashraf c Charles b Muzarabani 0 3 0 0 0.00 Akif Javed not out 0 0 0 0 0.00 EXTRAS (B-1, LB-2, W-1) 4 - - - -- TOTAL (all out, 19 overs) 149 - - - -- FALL OF WKTS: 1-1 (Munro), 2-13 (Akhlaq), 3-14 (Shadab), 4-54 (Iftikhar), 5-61 (Asif Ali), 6-111 (Khawaja), 7-125 (Hasan Ali), 8-146 (Wasim), 9-149 (Faheem), 10-149 (Hussain).
BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 4-0-17-3; Imran Khan 4-0-40-1 (1w); Shahnawaz Dhani 3-0-29-0; Muzarabani 4-0-31-3; Imran Tahir 4-0-29-2. RESULT: Multan Sultans won by 31 runs.
UMPIRES: Ahsan Raza and Rashid Riaz. TV UMPIRE: Aleem Dar. MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Javed Malik. PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Sohail Tanvir (Multan Sultans)
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2021