Sharjeel’s century goes in vain as United down Kings; Alex Hales, Iftikhar, Hussain star for the winners

By AZ Aamir

KARACHI: Sharjeel Khan’s superb 105 went in vain as Islamabad United pulled off their second successive win when they downed holders Karachi Kings by five wickets in their second round fixture of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021 here at National Stadium on Wednesday night.
Chasing 197, Islamabad United rode on the batting heroics of Iftikhar Ahmad (49*), Alex Hales (46) and Hussain Talat (42) to achieve the target with five balls to spare after losing five wickets.
United needed 14 runs off the last two overs. Asif Ali (21*) hit Mohammad Amir for one six and one four in the penultimate over that fetched 13 runs. Asif then took a single off the first ball of the last over from left-armer Waqas Maqsood to bring in a sensational win.
This is the highest run-chase of this event and the fifth highest in the PSL history.
At one stage, Islamabad United were 82-4 in the seventh over. At this stage Iftikhar and Hussain Talat did a fine job, sharing 94-run fifth wicket partnership off 67 balls to pave way for a successful chase. Mohammad Nabi broke the stand by getting rid of Hussain who hit four fours in his 31-ball rapid knock. And then Asif-Iftikhar did the job by sharing 21 runs for the sixth wicket unbroken stand to complete the victory.
Iftikhar hit three sixes and two fours in his 37-ball 49 not out. Asif smacked two sixes and one four in his nine-ball 21 not out. Earlier, United had a poor start as they lost two early wickets inside ten balls.
Off the second ball of the innings skipper Imad Wasim provided the much-needed breakthrough to Kings when he got rid of Phil Salt (0) of Australia who did not open his account.
In the next over seasoned left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir got rid of Shadab Khan who fell for a first-ball duck, trapped lbw, confirmed through referral. However at this stage Alex Hales and Faheem Ashraf did some lusty hitting, sharing 62 runs off 22 balls to set momentum for the chase.
It was left-arm pacer Waqas Maqsood who removed the dangerous Alex Hales in the sixth over when he offered an easy catch to substitute fielder Qasim Akram at short mid-off after smashing an explosive 21-ball 46. The English batsman hammered eight fours and one six.
The previous match hero Arshad Iqbal in the next over bowled Faheem, played on, to leave United struggling at 82-4 in the seventh over. Imad Wsim (1-32), Amir (1-44), Waqas Maqsood (1-22), Arshad Iqbal (1-30) and Nabi (1-26) were among the wickets.
Earlier, Sharjeel Khan (105) and Babar Azam (62) shared a record opening stand to enable holders Karachi Kings to post 196-3 after being invited to bat.
Both the openers put to swords the United’s bowlers and shared 176 runs for the first wicket partnership which came off 112 balls. This is also the highest opening stand in the PSL history.
In the start Babar looked prolific and managed a few classical drives but Sharjeel looked a bit uneasy in the powerplay which yielded only 33 runs. It seemed that Kings would not be able to pile-up any imposing total on the board.
But as the time progressed Sharjeel caught momentum and was on song in the middle of the innings. During his quest of runs he also hammered leggie Shadab Khan for four successive sixes in the ninth over of the innings which fetched 25 runs.
The left-hander brought in his fifty off 32 balls and his 100 came off 55 deliveries. He hit Faheem Ashraf for a glorious straight six to bring in the first hundred of this season and his overall second in the PSL history.
This is also the first century of this season. Sharjeel hit eight sixes and nine fours in his 59-ball knock. He also equaled his personal best sixes tally in the PSL.
Islamabad United eventually broke the partnership in the 19thover when Babar Azam got run out after being dropped by Alex Hales on the boundary rope off the bowling of Hasan Ali. Babar, whose fifty came off 38 balls, hammered six fours and one six from 54 balls.
Off the next ball Hasan Ali got rid of Sharjeel, trapped lbw, following a successful review from Islamabad United. Mohammad Nabi was the third and last man got out when he was dislodged by Hussain Talat off the final ball of the innings. Nabi, Afghanistan’s Test cricketer, hit one six in his five-ball seven.
Daniel Christian remained not out on five-ball 12, striking two fours as Kings scored 196-3 in the allotted 20 overs. Hasan Ali 1-36 in 4 overs) and Hussain Talat (1-25 in 2) were the successful bowlers. 
Shadab remained the most expensive bowler of United who conceded 32 runs in two overs. Zafar Gohar, the Test spinner, gave away 22 in two overs. Alex Hales was declared as man of the match for setting up the foundation. Earlier, both teams took the field without making changes to their line-ups through which they had achieved victories in their first round matches.

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