Fans come out in full force
Fans come out in full force to attend the opening ceremony of the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League on Thursday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Defending champions Islamabad United brilliantly chased Lahore Qalandars’ challenging total on the opening match of the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the Dubai International Stadium to record an impressive five wicket win.

Lahore’s opener Fakhar Zaman scored his third fifty in PSL but Islamabad fought back brilliantly. In the last five overs Lahore lost six wickets for 41 runs after getting a brilliant of 97 runs from openers but were restricted to 171 for 8 in 20 overs.

Chasing the target Islamabad kept losing wickets at regular intervals, Asif Ali (36n.o) and Faheem Ashraf (23n.o) put on 59 invaluable runs in 4.4 overs to win the match with four balls to spare.

Earlier, Islamabad won the toss and had elected to field. Zaman gave PSL a brilliant start by elegantly driving the first ball of the event from Lahore skipper Mohammad Sami to deep extra cover for a boundary. The first over produced nine runs and so did the second over which was bowled by England’s left arm spinner Samit Patel.

Zaman’s opening partner Sohail Akhtar lofted left -arm pacer Waqas Maqsood, who bowled the third over, past mid-off for the second boundary of the innings. In the fourth over, Zaman went down on his knees and slog swept Patel for a six over long on. He also picked another boundary by stepping out and hitting over the infielders for a boundary. Akhtar too hit Patel for another boundary to long on but escaped being caught and bowled off the next ball with his score on 13.

Zaman continued to score with ease by hitting Maqsood for another boundary to mid-wicket. When Shadab Khan was introduced for the sixth over, Zaman stepped out to hit him for a six over long on. The pair scored briskly with Akhtar hitting Shadab for a straight six in the eighth over. Zaman reached his 50 in 32 balls. The pair put on a 97runs in 10.4 overs when Akhtar going for a pull off Faheem Ashraf got a glove on to the helmet and the ball and landed into the gloves of wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi. Akhtar’s knock of 37 came off 30 balls with four boundaries and one six.

In walked AB De Villiers to the loud cheer from the fans. He won the applause from everyone through a well-timed shot past point to the boundary off Hussain Talat. The next delivery too he pulled to mid-wicket for another boundary. Zaman too got a boundary past sweeper cover off Talat. De Villers ended Talat’s over by hitting a six for the fans at mid-wicket. His over produced 20 runs.

Zaman hit his third six off Shadab in the 14th over but perished in the same over by getting caught by Rizwan Hussain at point. His knock of 65 off 44 balls contained six boundaries and three sixes. De Villiers’ 17 ball knock for 24 runs ended when Waqas had him brilliantly caught by Philip Salt at edge of the boundary at long off.

With two fresh batsmen at the crease in Anton Devcich and Brendan Taylor at the crease, the run flow dipped. To make it worse, Cameron Delport trapped Taylor leg before for 2. Ashraf also took the wicket of Carlos Bratwaite for 6. Lahore kept losing wickets regularly and in the end posted 171 for 8.

Chasing the score, Islamabad opener Ronchi too hit the first ball from Shaheen Afridi to long on. He also hit a six off the last ball over mid-wicket into the crowd. After 14 runs came off the first over, Rahat Ali bowled a brilliant second over giving away just two runs. In the third over Ronchi hit Afridi for two successive boundaries. The fourth over saw Ronchi as well as his opening partner Rizwan Hussain hitting two successive boundaries off Brathwaite.

At the score on 45, Hussain mistimed his lofted shot off Rahat Ali and landed up getting caught by skipper Hafeez at cover for 15. Ali also took the prize wicket of Ronchi by having him caught by Haris Rauf at backward square leg for 27. Next man Philip Salt drove Ali straight to Rauf at covers for 4.

At the half way mark, Islamabad were 69 for 3, needing another 103 runs at a run rate of 10.3 runs per over. Hussain Talat and Delport tried to accelerate the run rate. Delport even pulled Rauf for a six in the 12th over. He also slow swept Yasir Shah for a six to bring in the 50 runs partnership and the 100-run mark of the team.

Rahat Ali who was re-introduced into the attack, struck by removing the dangerous Delport. Trying to hit over extra cover he landed up being caught by Hafeez for 24. Asif Ali joined Talat but Brathwaite removed Talat for 37 .

In the last five overs, Islamabad needed 48 runs. Asif turned the match by hitting two successive sixes off Rahat Ali to make it 16 runs from 16 balls.

Brief scores:

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).