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Islamabad United's Faheem Ashraf plays a shot during the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 match against Quetta Gladiators at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi. Image Credit: AFP

Rawalpindi: Faheem Ashraf blazed a 26-ball unbeaten half-century and led two-time champion Islamabad United to its best ever run-chase in the Pakistan Super League with a thrilling two-wicket win over Multan Sultans on Tuesday.

Earlier, Shaheen Shah Afridi’s maiden half-century and four wickets went in vain as his defending champion Lahore Qalandars lost to Peshawar Zalmi by 35 runs.

Peshawar’s victory eliminated former champions the Karachi Kings from playoffs contention. Karachi takes on Lahore in its last league game on Sunday.

Lahore and Islamabad both have already sealed places in the playoffs and occupy the top two spots with 12 points each from six wins in eight games. Multan and Peshawar are favorites to book the remaining two spots in the playoffs with eight points.

Fast bowler

Needing 18 off the final over to overhaul Multan’s 205-5, Ashraf paddle scooped Multan’s most expensive fast bowler Mohammad Ilyas (0-54) to fine leg boundary for four before hitting an extraordinary reverse scoop over short third man for a six.

The left-hander then hit a straight boundary to level the score before clearing Kieron Pollard at mid-off for a winning boundary to remain unbeaten on 51 as Islamabad reached 209-8 with a ball to spare.

Seamer Anwar Ali (3-33) and tournament’s leading wicket-taker — fast bowler Ihsanullah (2-35) — had pinned down Islamabad’s batting powerhouse while leg-spinner Usama Mir picked up two key wickets of Colin Munro (40) and Azam Khan (3) before Ashraf’s late onslaught earned Islamabad a sensational win.

Tim David made a stunning entry into this season’s PSL for Multan with his blazing 60 off 27 balls that included four sixes and a boundary in fast bowler Rumman Raees’ one over which went for 30.

David and top-scorer Shan Masood (75) featured in a brisk 80-run stand before Ashraf had Masood caught in the deep in the 17th over in his return spell. Mohammad Wasim, who conceded 48 runs off his four overs, picked up two wickets in the last over as David couldn’t clear Shadab Khan at long-off and David Miller skied a full toss to Munro at extra cover.

Earlier, Lahore, which has already qualified for the playoffs, was bowled out for 172 with two balls remaining.

Peshawar posted 207 thanks to half-centuries by openers Saim Ayub (68) and captain Babar Azam (50), and despite the last eight wickets falling for 39 runs.

Afridi picked up three wickets in his last over to finish with 4-31.

Left-hander Ayub, opening for the first time this season, showed plenty of aggression against the Lahore bowling attack comprising of Haris Rauf, Afridi and Rashid Khan. Ayub plundered eight fours and three sixes in his 36-ball knock.

Caught behind

Ayub and Babar combined for 107. Ayub was caught behind in the 11th over and Babar got caught at long on in the 16th, as Peshawar collapsed with three balls left.

Lahore was reduced to 21-4 in the powerplay but Afridi and Hussain Talat (63) shared a 114-run stand.

Afridi hit five sixes and three fours after he surprisingly promoted himself for the second time in the tournament ahead of Sikander Raza and David Wiese.

Afridi and Talat dominated the Afghanistan duo of Mujeeb Ur Rahman (0-44) and Azmatullah Omarzai (2-40) but once Afridi was out, Lahore lost its last five wickets for 10 runs.

Wahab Riaz led Peshawar with 3-17, and Rashid got 2-41.