Azam’s blitz guides United to a huge win

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Azam Khan’s thunderous 42-ball 97 enabled Islamabad United to pull off their third win from four games when they demolished Quetta Gladiators by 63 runs in their match of the HBL PSL 8 here at the National Stadium on Friday night.

Azam enchanted the audience with his lusty hitting, hammering eight huge sixes and nine fours in his stunning feat to catapult Islamabad United to a huge total of 220-6, the highest score of this edition so far and United’s fourth highest in the PSL history.

Fazalhaq Farooqi (3-28) and Hasan Ali (3-39) then folded Gladiators for 157 in 19.1 overs.

After deciding to bat first United at one stage were 71-4. However, Azam Khan and Asif Ali did a marvellous job with their ferocious knocks to guide their team to a massive total.

They added 98 off 45 balls for the fifth wicket stand before Asif Ali was removed by Naseem Shah in the 18th over of the innings for a superb 24-ball 42, smashing four sixes and one four. This is also the highest fifth wicket stand for United in their PSL history.

Azam then dominated the 51-run sixth wicket partnership off just 16 balls with Faheem Ashraf who remained not out on a six-ball 17 which carried two fours and one six.

Azam was unlucky not to complete his first PSL century when he was bowled by Odean Smith off the final ball of the innings which was a slower one and deceived the big man.

Azam had brought in his fifty off just 29 balls. He also hammered pacer Mohammad Hasnain for three huge successive sixes and the one at square-leg went over the park.

Earlier, United lost their in-form batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz early when Mohammad Hasnain got rid of him in the second over of the innings with Iftikhar Ahmed holding a stunning catch while covering a huge distance.

Gurbaz struck one six in his run-a-ball eight.

Hasnain, in his next over, bowled Rassie van der Dussen (1) to leave United struggling at 28-2. Skipper Shadab Khan joined Colin Munro but he once again failed to deliver and was bowled by Odean Smith for just a 14-ball 12 with two fours.

Emerging medium pacer Aimal Khan then got the big wicket of Colin Munro who struck 22-ball 38, hammering four sixes and one four. But blitz from Azam and Asif took United to a safe total.

United had scored just 39 in the powerplay. However, in the last five overs they scored 92.

Emerging fast bowler Aimal Khan remained the most expensive bowler as he captured 1-55 in his quota of four overs. Mohammad Hasnain, who conceded 42 runs in his final two overs, finished with 2-52 in his quota of four overs.

Odean Smith, who gave away 21 runs in his last over, picked 2-41 in his four overs.

Set to score a big total, Gladiators had a poor start when Afghan left-armer Fazalhaq Farooqi bowled Martin Guptill for a golden duck. Immediately after that test spinner Abrar Ahmed got rid of Jason Roy (5) and Will Smeed in quick succession to leave Gladiators gasping at 26-3 in the fourth over.

Mohammad Hafeez (48), at this stage, did a fine job, hitting some exquisite strokes and added 69 runs for the fourth wicket association with skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed. It was Fazalhaq Farooqi who removed Hafeez who hammered two sixes and six fours in his 26-ball rapid knock.

Gladiators were 95-4 in the 11th over at the fall of Hafeez. Iftikhar then joined Sarfaraz and both added 32 in the fifth wicket before Shadab trapped Sarfraz lbw for a 36-ball 41, featuring three fours and one six.

In the same over Shadab had Nawaz (1) before Hasan Ali got rid of Odean Smith (0) to leave Gladiators reeling at 145-7. Hasan Ali in his next over removed Iftikhar Ahmed (39) and Naseem Shah (0) off two successive balls before Fazalhaq Farooqi got rid of Mohammad Hasnain (1) to fold Gladiators well behind the target. Iftikhar struck two sixes and three fours in his 27-ball 39.

Three-star Fazalhaq and Hasan Ali were ably backed by Abrar Ahmed (2-21) and Shadab Khan (2-24).

The win took United to six points at the second spot on the points table. This was the fourth loss for Gladiators and they trail at the bottom of the table with just two points.

Earlier both teams made two changes. United brought in Abrar Ahmed and Fazalhaq Farooqui in place of Rumman Raees and Tom Curran.

Quetta inducted Will Smeed and Aimal Khan in place of Abdul Wahid Bangalzai and Qais Ahmad.




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