Haris’ rapid fifty guides Zalmi to a win over United

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RAWALPINDI: Mohammad Haris (79) spurred Peshawar Zalmi to a close 13-run win against Islamabad United on the Pindi Stadium pitch having a bit more for the pacers against what was on display during the last ten days of Pakistan Super League (8) action.

Haris’ innings of substance and aggression saw Peshawar hit up 179 for 8 with United falling short by 13 runs, getting bowled out for 166 in the last over, despite some late power-hitting exhibition by Faheem Ashraf (38). Khurram Shahzad’s (3-13) last over produced the magic as he picked two wickets required to settle the issue.

The result more importantly decided the fate of Qualifiers and Eliminators. Courtesy of Zalmi’s win, Multan Sultan have now made it to the Qualifiers with Peshawar and Islamabad left to play the Eliminator on March 16. Before that Multan and Lahore Qalandars will be pitted against each other on March 15 for a place in the PSL 8 final. The losers of the Qualifier will have a second chance to play against the winner of the first Eliminator.

Peshawar Zalmi’s innings revolved around Man of the Match Mohammad Haris’ entertaining 79 on a pitch that was a bit different from the one on offer previously at the Pindi Stadium. Haris aggression and Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s (41) controlled innings saw Zalmi raising 115 runs for the second wicket. Following Saim Ayub’s (0) early departure both measured their innings well, keeping up a free-flowing run tempo to enable the neighbouring city team to keep a decent run-scoring tempo.

Haris raised his fifty with a couple too long off. He backed up his 26-ball fifty with two fours and one six off United skipper Shadab who yet again bowled expensive first two overs conceding 27.

At the halfway stage, Peshawar Zalmi reached 116 for one with Haris already taking over a pinch-hitting role. By ten overs, the right-handed attacking batsman had already struck seven fours and five sixes in an inning of authority and aggression. Bhanuka Rajapaksa (41) was a bit slow, losing his wicket immediately following the lemon break with Munro taking a well-judged catch at the mid-wicket fence, stepping out and throwing the ball in the air before retaining the possession inside the boundary. Stand-in skipper Tom Kohler-Cadmore (12) could not survive long. His wicket triggered Zamli’s mini collapse as Zalmi lost five more wickets inside 30 more runs. Haseebullah Khan (10), James Neesham (1), Aamir Jamal (9) were the wickets to fall besides that of the top scorer Haris.

Islamabad United’s innings never stood on sound footing as the team kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. When Rahmanullah Gurbaz (33) and Shadab Khan (28) were at the crease, Islamabad United for a brief period looked threatening to take the attack back to bowlers. However, once Shadab was dislodged, even Faheem sizzling sixes were not enough to help out United. Faheem was seen smashing four sixes and two fours during his 13-ball 38 to take United close to winning. The innings was however not enough at the end with Khurram Shahzad who surprisingly bowled just 1.4 overs accounting for the last two to win the day for Zalmi.

“We never played consistent cricket. But sometimes you learn from defeat and there was a lot to learn from this defeat. Hopefully, things would get much better once we start playing the Play-offs,” Islamabad United captain Shadab Khan said.

He defended Asif Ali’s poor run of form saying sometimes you go through a lean period. “He has won so many matches for us in the past and will continue to do so in the future also.”

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