It was the same sad story for Lahore, the same transition of ‘Boost’ to ‘Dunk’, the same gritty pouncing back ability of Islamabad United in the first game of PSL 2019. The Qalandars always manage to mess up things once beautifully set up but nothing should be taken away from the chasing mindset of the United’s team.
As Faheem Ashraf lifted a length ball off M.Hafeez for a finishing six over midwicket, it constituted a display of intelligent cricket and they managed to clutch a win in their first match with 5 wickets and 4 balls to spare.
It started off exquisitely for the Qalandars with Fakhar thrashing the first ball of M. Sami for four. Sohail and Zaman gave a blistering start of 57 runs in the power play on a flat, low-bounce pitch. After a 5-run penalty was awarded to the Lahori team on account of the ball hitting Ronchi’s ground-lying glove, the real acceleration started in the third over when Samit Patel was bashed for 15 runs.
Fakhar Zaman brought up his third PSL fifty in the tenth over and the glimmering figure of 94 runs on the board echoed with the prospect of posting a huge total. After Sohail departed, Ab De Villiers entered the ground under a roar of audible cheer.
Hussain Talat had to face the crafty wrath of the South African and was punished with 20 runs in an over. Everything was on course till the 14th over but after Fakhar departed by skying a flighted delivery off Shadab, De Villiers immediately followed him to the pavilion and things started to get messy. Brendon Taylor and Braithwaite aren’t able to do anything against the intelligent bowling of Faheem Ashraf and Delport.
Only 41 runs came off in the last 5 overs and Qalandars managed a total of 171 which was well below expectation. The spinners were treated badly with Shadab Khan enduring the spatter of his most expensive bowling figures of PSL, conceding 34 runs and Samit Patel who gave away 19 in his 2 overs. Waqas Ahmad and Faheem Ashraf were the picks of the bowlers.
The chase started with a four over mid-on by Luke Ronchi who collected 14 runs off the young Shaheen Afridi. The Islamabad team was cruising comfortably with 45 in 5 overs when Rahat Ali came to bowl the last over of the power play and snatched three wickets in an over leaving the opposing team clueless from 45/0 to 49/3.
The new couple took the game slowly with only 69 runs coming in the first 10 overs. 100 came in the 13th over when Delport managed to swing a maximum over midwicket and the ball landed in the second tier. Professor turned to his main pick, Rahat Ali who did not disappoint him and took the wicket of Delport.
This was followed by the wicket of Hussain Talat who was trapped in the sly trap of Hafeez and tried to be too cheeky. The new pair of Asif Ali and Faheem Ashraf was left with the task to take their side home at the stage when they needed 54 off 32 balls. They started the advance calmly and without any haste. It always seemed they had things worked out.
When Asif Ali smashed consecutive two sixes to Rahat Ali in the 18th over, it was assured that Islamabad will be home comfortably. The couple completed the game with a match-winning stand of 59 runs of just 28 balls. Faheem Ashraf was awarded the Player of the Match for showcasing brilliant skills with the bat and the ball.
Islamabad United registered a nerve-settling victory of five wickets that earned them 2 points while Lahoris would be pulling their hair as they could sense all the dreadful history rushing back like waves of water. Somehow, they have to get rid of this ‘Boom and Dunk ‘period or otherwise, make sure that their ‘Boom’ period overweighs the ‘Dunk’ period.
Islamabad seems to have covered all its basis of batting and bowling because they had 7 bowlers bowl today and carried Shadab and Patel in the hut even though they were five down.