Dubai: Defending champions Islamabad United captain Mohammad Sami, after beating Lahore Qalandars by five wickets in the opening match of the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday night, attributed the victory to his team’s self-belief.
Sami who took over the captaincy of this team from Pakistan’s most successful captain Misbah-ul-Haq said: “We have a good squad so there is no pressure in leading this team. There are a lot of factors but the main one is self-belief. We believe in coming out of any situation and that is our plus point.”
Sami then hailed the comeback after Lahore openers Fakhar Zaman (65) and Sohail Akhtar (37) gave their side a good start through a 97-run partnership before restricting them to 171-8. “They started well but our bowlers pulled it back nicely. It is always nice to win the first match of the tournament.”
The opening match lived up to the expectations of the fans that thronged the stadium. They sat on the edge of their seats until the match ended around 2am.
It looked at one stage that Lahore may get off to a sensational start by defeating the champions but two stubborn batsmen Faheem Ashraf (23n.o) and Asif Ali (36n.o) through a 59-run partnership in 4.4 overs for the sixth wicket won the match for Islamabad with four balls to spare.
Ashraf, who took two wickets to restrict Lahore and played a valuable knock, was adjudged the man of the match. Speaking about his batting under pressure, Ashraf said: “When I went out to bat Asif was batting well. We spoke about keeping the scoreboard moving. It all worked out in the end.”
When asked about how he gained confidence, Ashraf said: “Cricket is not easy. The recent South African tour was a difficult one but it was a learning curve. I got to work on my batting and bowling. I bowled to my strengths and tried to hit the hard length. Before I used to not use the slower deliveries much but today I did.”
Recently, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram had hailed Ashraf’s skills and remarked that he is the right all-rounder that Pakistan needs to win matches.
For Lahore skipper Mohammad Hafeez it was a disappointing loss and admitted his team should have posted a bigger total after such a fine start. “We had a good total but we should have posted around 190 runs. All credit to Islamabad for bowling well. We could have bowled better at the death. I always want my bowlers to attack but we could not break the Hussain Talat-Cameron Delport partnership. Our pacer Shaheen (Afridi) also had a bad day with the ball.”
Islamabad United bt Lahore Qalandars by five wickets. Lahore Qalandars 171 for 8 in 20 overs (Fakhar Zaman 65, Sohail Akhtar 37, AB de Villiers 24, Faheem Ashraf 2 for 24) Islamabad United 177 for 5 in 19.2 overs, (Luke Ronchi 27, Cameron Delport 24, Hussain Talat 37, Asif Ali 36n.o, Faheem Ashraf 23n.o, Rahat Ali 4 for 29) Man of the match: Faheem Ashraf