By our correspondent
MULTAN: Multan Sultans made a strong comeback in the HBL Pakistan Super League 8 as Ihsanullah scythed through Quetta Gladiators batting order to help them to a thumping nine-wicket win at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Ihsanullah’s superlative pace bowling garnered him incredible figures of five for 12 in four overs with 16 of his 24 deliveries being dots. These are the second best figures for a Multan Sultans bowler, behind Umar Gul’s six for 24 against the same opposition in the 2018 edition of the tournament.
The 20-year-old right-arm fast was incredibly quick and hit the good length regularly, keeping the batters guessing whether to commit on the front or the back foot. He bowled with such menace that he had taken all five wickets in 16 balls.
Hailing from Khyber Agency in the north west of Pakistan, Ihsanullah entered the HBL PSL 8 at the back of decent form. The fast bowler was the best fast bowler in the Pakistan Cup 2022-23 (and second best overall), taking 25 wickets in 11 matches at a shade below 20.
Quetta Gladiators had a poor start with Martin Guptill falling to Sameen Gul in the second over and Abdul Wahid Bangalzai becoming Abbas Afridi’s victim in the fifth. Their woes amplified with the introduction of Ihsanullah, who bowled Sarfaraz Ahmed in his first over, the sixth of the innings.
The highlight of the match came in the eighth over when Ihsanullah accounted for Jason Roy, the highest run getter in the innings with 27 off 18, and Iftikhar Ahmed on back-to-back deliveries that put the visitors at a precarious 46 for five.
Mohammad Nawaz and Umar Akmal tried to steady the ship with a 20-run stand from 4.3 overs, but as the former was trapped LBW by the leg-spin of Usama Mir, who was the best bowler of the aforementioned Pakistan Cup and recently debuted for Pakistan in the ODI series against New Zealand, the floodgates opened again.
Ihsanullah had Umar walking back to the pavilion the next ball – first of the 13th – and three balls later, he rattled Naseem Shah’s stumps to record his maiden five-fer in the format.
Quetta Gladiators could manage 110 as they were bowled out with seven balls spare. Their second best score came from Mohammad Hasnain, who made 22, while Sameen and Abbas picked up two wickets each.
The run chase proved to be a cakewalk for the home side as they crossed the line in just 13.3 overs. There was an early hiccup, however, when Nuwan Thushara, at the start of the second over, hit Shan Masood on pads in front of stumps, but after that, it was a smooth sailing for Multan Sultans.
Rilee Rossouw, playing his first match of the season, took the game away in the fourth over, smacking Thushara for four consecutive fours. He scored his eighth HBL PSL half-century and finished with 78 not out off 42 and Multan Sultans’ captain Mohammad Rizwan made 28 off 34 as the two stitched 108-run undefeated partnership.
This was Multan Sultans’ sixth win over Quetta Gladiators in 10 matches.
Scores in brief:
Quetta Gladiators 110 all out, 18.5 overs (Jason Roy 27, Mohammad Hasnain 22; Ihsanullah 5-12, Sameen Gul 2-20, Abbas Afridi 2-27)
Multan Sultans 111-1, 13.3 overs (Rilee Rossouw 78 not out, Mohammad Rizwan 28 not out)
Player of the match – Ihsanullah (Multan Sultans)