Rawalpindi: All-rounder Faheem Ashraf smashed three successive boundaries in the last over to send Islamabad United into the Pakistan Super League playoffs with a two-wicket victory over Quetta Gladiators on Sunday.
Needing nine runs from the 20th over to overhaul Quetta’s 179-6, Ashraf finished unbeaten on 39 as he hammered fast bowler Odean Smith for three fours off the first three balls and took Islamabad to 183-8 with three balls to spare.
Islamabad’s fifth win in seven games lifted it to second behind Lahore Qalandars, which on Saturday became the first team to qualify for the playoffs . The fifth successive loss pushed Quetta to the brink of elimination with only two points from seven games.
Najibullah Zadran, playing his first game for Quetta, made an aggressive 59 off 34 balls and Mohammad Nawaz (44-ball 52) scored his first half century of the season after Islamabad had reduced Quetta to 17-4 inside the first six overs of the batting powerplay.
Umar Akmal hit a blistering unbeaten 43 off only 14 balls with five sixes and two fours in the death overs that raised Quetta’s hopes after being asked to bat first.
Islamabad’s Fazalhaq Farooqi (3-25) had pinned Quetta opener Will Smeed leg before wicket off the first ball the Englishman faced, while Yasir Khan offered a tame catch in the Afghanistan fast bowler’s second over.
Ashraf then struck in his successive overs when captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (3) was brilliantly snapped by Mubasir Khan on the edge of the boundary at deep backward square leg, and a poor run of form continued for Iftikhar Ahmed (2) as he couldn’t clear Shadab Khan at mid-off.
Zadran and Nawaz then combined in a brilliant century stand off 64 balls before Akmal provided a late flurry as Quetta added 65 runs in the last five overs.
Colin Munro’s 63 off 29 balls — including four sixes and five fours — propelled Islamabad after the two-time champions lost Rahmanullah Gurbaz in Naseem Shah’s first over and Alex Hales was outfoxed by Naveen ul-Haq’s slower delivery in the fifth over.
But Quetta staged a comeback through Nawaz’s (2-17) brilliant four-over spell in the middle overs that saw Islamabad slipping to 111-6 as Nawaz had hard-hitting batter Asif Ali clean bowled.
Azam Khan (35) and Ashraf then revived Islamabad’s hopes with a 58-run stand before Umaid Asif (3-37) dismissed both Azam and Hasan Ali in the penultimate over.
Ashraf sealed the game with his flurry of boundaries.