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RAWALPINDI: Lahore Qalandars proved their mettle by inflicting the heaviest-ever defeat on Islamabad United to confirm their status as one of the top two finishers of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season 8 following a one-sided match at the Pindi Stadium Thursday.
Islamabad United batsmen could not bear the pressure of 227 runs target set by Lahore Qalandars and were bowled out for 107 in the 16th over. The 119 runs defeat was the biggest ever suffered by a team in PSL history. The match that promised so much at the start, ended up with an easy win for the Qalandars.
Lahore Qalandars innings revolved mainly around Fakhar Zaman’s (115) chancy hundred where he was dropped twice and narrowly escaped leg before wicket decision. His eight fours and eight sixes during his 57-ball stay at the wicket were enough to see Qalandars raising a daunting 226 for 5.
Twice Fakhar was dropped, first when Asif Ali floored him in slips, the southpaw was just 1. At 70 he was again dropped by Hasan Ali at long-off. By that time Fakhar had already hit five sixes and six fours, with a few of them landing in the stands. Drama erupted when he was adjudged leg before Wasim with umpire Asif Afridi ruling him out. Even Fakhar who was on 85 at that time was sure of his fall and was heading towards the pavilion when he was called back to continue his innings as the ball pitched outside the leg stump.
“When Asif Ali dropped my catch, I knew this is my day and I carried on till I was dropped yet again. The pitch was playing truly early on but later got a bit slow and low. I told my partner including Billing that it would be better if we start hitting before waiting for the end overs,” Man of the Match Fakhar Zaman said following in exciting innings.
Minutes later Fakhar struck another smartest of sixes and then took a single to reach his second PSL hundred consuming 50 balls, hitting six sixes and eight fours in the process. His innings not only set a solid foundation but also saw Qalandars push the run rate to over 10 runs per over.
Fakhar Zaman catered to 24-ball fifty, stealing two following a free-flowing six off Shadab Khan. Shadab conceded 32 of his first two overs-the worst-ever start of his bowling quota for the leg spinner. At the early fall of Abdullah Shafique (1), Fakhar put on 122 for the second wicket with Kamran Ghulam (41) and another 70 for the third wicket with Sam Billings (32).
Islamabad United got a reprieve when Kamran Ghulam (41) was held at deep square leg by Faheem Ashraf off Mohammad Wasim. By that time, Lahore had already reached 125 in 10.4 overs.
Sam Billings also played a brisk 32 studded with two sixes and as many fours. Though Fazalhaq Farooqi (3-40) was the pick of bowlers, every Islamabad bowler conceded ten or more runs per over except for Hasan Ali (1-33 of four overs).
“It is never easy to chase down such a huge total against the bowling of the stature of Lahore Qalandars. They have got a solid attack. But things could change when the PSL 8 will enter into the playoffs,” United captain Shadab Khan who looked off-coloured Thursday said in a post-match media talk.
In between United lost hard-hitter Azam Khan and was ruled out of the match with a ring finger injury to his left hand.
Islamabad United’s chase of an impeccable target was never on track as they keep on losing wickets at regular intervals with none staying long to pose any threat to the Qalandars total. Alex Hales (18), Collin Munro (11), Shadab Khan (12), Asif Ali (7) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (15) could not stay long enough on a pitch that had nothing for bowlers.
Rashid Khan (4-21) yet again proved his utility confirming his status as a true match-winner, breaking the heart of United batting with some exceptional bowling performance.