HBL Pakistan Super League: Sultans hold nerve in thriller to edge United

Published February 21, 2024
MULTAN Sultans pacer Abbas Afridi celebrates after dismissing Islamabad United batter Imad Wasim during their match at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.—AFP
MULTAN Sultans pacer Abbas Afridi celebrates after dismissing Islamabad United batter Imad Wasim during their match at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.—AFP

MULTAN: In a match where momentum swung from one team to another, it was all about who held the nerve. And Multan Sultans did it at the end at the expense of Islamabad United.

Both teams were in the game till its final ball, but the Sultans found themselves slightly ahead when it mattered the most to take the game by five wickets at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.

Having kept their chances alive till the death through Reeza Hendricks’ half century and a crucial knock by captain Mohammad Rizwan at the top of the order, Multan were taken over the line thanks to an 18-run cameo by Iftikhar Ahmed as they chased down a 145-run target.

Iftikhar was struggling to put bat to ball, playing at eight off 12 balls when he saw Hendricks lose his wicket to Tymal Mills at the other end in the midst of the 18th over.

Sensing responsibility as a senior player at that point, Iftikhar clubbed the left-armer for a six over deep midwicket to leave Multan needing 13 in the last two overs.

Naseem Shah getting Khushdil Shah caught out two balls later somewhat took Islamabad ahead, only for tailender David Willey to spoil it all for them with a drive through the off-side for four.

That was the last boundary of the match as Multan needed just four to win in the last over, bowled by Mills. All of those came off singles, as Iftikhar scampered for a desperate one to give the hosts their second win in two games.

Islamabad must be lamenting dropped catches of both Rizwan and Hendricks — the former being spilled by Imad Wasim off Naseem on the very first ball of the innings and the latter being given another life at 12.

While Rizwan capitalised on the chance by adding 44 off 33 to the total before being trapped lbw by a Shadab Khan flipper, Hendricks scored 58 off 46.

On a difficult surface, Rizwan was meeting the ball when it came in his zone, punishing wayward deliveries on the leg-side and pulling and flicking for sixes off Faheem Ashraf and Ubaid Shah.

The Pakistan wicket-keeper’s exploits drove Multan to 44-1 by the end of the powerplay despite losing opening partner Dawid Malan to a Naseem ripper.

The right-hander played an inside-out stroke over the covers off Imad’s left-arm spin after sweeping the bowler for third and fourth boundaries in the ninth over.

After Hendricks, who had been on the slower side by that point, crunched medium pacer Tymal Mills for two boundaries in the next over to take Multan to 77-1 at halfway stage, before Rizwan fell.

In a match where fielding standards had been below par, an exceptional effort by Islamabad’s Jordan Cox in collaboration with Alex Hales on the wide long-on boundary resulted in Yasir Khan’s wicket.

Running in from deep midwicket to get under the ball and hold it safely, Cox tossed the ball in the air as he crossed the skirting on the boundary in his momentum for Hales to take it safely.

The equation was still in balance as Multan looked for one big over. And that came when Shadab came into bowl the 17th. Pouncing on the opportunity, Hendricks clubbed the spinner for a six over deep midwicket before sweeping and pulling for two boundaries as he brought up his second consecutive half century.

The onslaught left the Sultans needing 21 off 18 balls but Hendricks fell four balls later, edging Mills to Faheem Ashraf at deep third-man before Iftikhar took centre stage.

Islamabad were restricted to what proved to be a reachable total by brilliant bowling shows by pacers Abbas Afridi and Mohammad Ali, who ran through the United line-up as both got wickets for their consistency and timely variations to earn three wickets each.

While Abbas registered figures of 3-33, Ali finished with an even better 3-19.

Both got going from the word go as Islamabad struggled to capitalise in the powerplay with Multan kept things tight with the new ball. The pressure resulted in openers Hales and Colin Munro departing early. While Hales skied Willey high off his top edge to be caught in the circle, Munro’s stumps were clattered by Mohammad Ali’s pace.

Islamabad could manage a mere 32 in the first six overs. It could have gotten worse for them had Khushdil held onto a simple catch to dismiss Cox off Abbas. Khushdil dropped yet another sitter to give Salman Ali Agha a second life.

The Pakistan batter smashed a four and so did Cox in the next over as United posted 67-2 at the halfway stage.

Cox looked dangerous when he hit pacer Olly Stone over wide-long on for a humungous six, but it was all over for him six balls later when leg-spinner Usama Mir trapped him lbw for 41.

Usama struck again in two overs later to send back Azam Khan, who had hit a four and a six. Imad followed when he played Abbas onto his stumps.

Despite the chaos at the other end, Salman kept the Islamabad scoreboard in flow with two fours off Abbas and a handsome six off Usama to cross the fifty-run mark but became the former’s second victim of the penultimate over after the pacer had castled captain Shadab.

Ali took two more wickets in the final over to wrap up United’s innings.

SCOREBOARD

ISLAMABAD UNITED:

Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Colin Munro b Ali 8 13 1 0 61.53

Alex Hales c Khushdil b Willey 2 8 0 0 25.00

Salman Ali Agha c Khushdil b Abbas 52 43 3 2 120.93

Jordan Cox lbw b Usama 41 28 2 2 146.42

Azam Khan c Willey b Usama 13 10 1 1 130.00

Imad Wasim b Abbas 0 3 0 0 0.00

Shadab Khan b Abbas 11 9 1 0 122.22

Faheem Ashraf c Hendricks b Ali 1 2 0 0 50.00

Naseem Shah run out 2 4 0 0 50.00

Ubaid Shah b Ali 0 2 0 0 0.00

Tymal Mills not out 0 1 0 0 0.00

EXTRAS (B-5, LB-3, NB-3, W-3) 14

TOTAL (all out, 20 overs) 144

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-9 (Hales), 2-14 (Munro), 3-82 (Cox), 4-100 (Azam), 5-105 (Imad), 6-140 (Shadab), 7-141 (Salman), 8-141 (Faheem), 9-141 (Ubaid)

BOWLING: Willey 4-0-26-1, Ali 4-0-19-3 (2nb), Stone 3.4-0-28-0 (2w), Abbas 4-0-33-3 (1w, 1nb), Usama 4-0-29-2, Khushdil 0.2-0-1-0

MULTAN SULTANS:

Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Mohammad Rizwan lbw b Shadab 43 33 6 2 130.30

Dawid Malan b Naseem 0 2 0 0 0.00

Reeza Hendricks c Faheem b Mills 58 46 6 1 126.08

Yasir Khan c Hales b Imad 8 11 0 0 72.72

Iftikhar Ahmed not out 18 17  0  1 105.88

Khushdil Shah c Shadab b Naseem 3 4 0 0 75.00

David Willey not out 7 6 1  0 116.66

EXTRAS (W-8) 8

TOTAL (for five wickets, 19.5 wickets) 145

DID NOT BAT: Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Ali, Olly Stone

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-6 (Malan), 2-77 (Rizwan), 3-96 (Yasir), 4-125 (Hendricks), 5-134 (Khushdil)

BOWLING: Naseem 4-0-27-2 (3w), Faheem 2-0-15-0 (2w), Ubaid 2-0-15-0, Imad 4-0-22-1, Mills 3.5-0-31-1, Shadab 4-0-35-1

RESULT: Multan Sultans won by five wickets.

PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Mohammad Ali

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2024

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