Hasnain, Azam star in Gladiators’ win over Islamabad United

From our correspondent 

KARACHI: Mohammad Hasnain and Azam Khan did a fine job as Quetta Gladiators began their title defence in style when they defeated former two-time winners Islamabad United by three wickets in their opener of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 here at the National Stadium on Thursday night.

Fast bowler Hasnain produced his career-best figures of 4-25 in four overs to dismiss Islamabad United for 168.

Bulky, young Azam then blasted 59 off just 33 balls to enable Gladiators to achieve the target with nine balls to spare after losing seven wickets in the process.

After inviting Islamabad United to bat first left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz got rid of Colin Munro off golden duck off the first ball of the innings. Nawaz took a splendid return catch to start the game in a dramatic fashion. However Dawid Malan stood like a rock, holding one end as he clobbered three sixes and five fours in his 40-ball 64 to enable his side post a fighting total in the end.

He was ably backed by Hussain Talat (19) and Asif Ali (19). In the end international allrounder Faheem Ashraf blasted an eight-ball 20 with four fours to take his side to a good total.

Besides superb bowling from Hasnain, Australia’s paceman Ben Cutting pulled off 3-31 in four overs while Sohail Khan claimed 2-21.

In response, after losing Jason Roy (0), Shane Watson (15) and Ahmed Shehzad (7) in quick succession, skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (21) and Azam Khan put on 62 for the fourth wicket stand to revive the innings. Medium pacer Amad Butt broke the partnership when he had Sarfraz, trapped lbw after the discarded Test stumper had hit two fours from 18 balls.

Azam continued to punish United’s bowlers before he was bowled by Faheem Ashraf near the end of the innings. Azam hammered three sixes and five fours from 33 balls. Mohammad Nawaz hit 13-ball 23 with four fours and Ben Cutting made 12-ball 22 not out to take their side over the line. Cutting smacked two sixes and one four. Sohail Khan also scored nine-ball 14 useful runs, hitting one six and one four.

Young pacer Mohammad Musa was impressive with the leather as he captured 3-30 in four overs.

Leggie Shadab Khan remained the most expensive of United bowlers as he gave away 46 runs in only 3.3 overs.

Hasnain was declared player of the match. Faisal Afridi and Richards Illingworth supervised the match. Roshan Mahanama of Sri Lanka was the match referee. 

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