Multan scripted tight win in a nerve-racking clash

By our correspondent
MULTAN: Multan Sultans bagged their second consecutive win at the HBL PSL 9 after they defeated Islamabad United by five wickets at Multan Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night. After restricting Islamabad United to 144 in 20 overs, courtesy of impressive bowling by Mohammad Ali and Abbas Afridi, Sultans managed to chase the target in the final over on the back of a dogged half-century by Reeza Hendricks.
Multan Sultans’ decision to field first paid dividends as Islamabad United lost two early wickets. Carrying on his form from the previous game, left-arm pacer David Willey once again provided the first breakthrough for Multan Sultans as he took out opening batter Alex Hales for just two runs in the third over.
Drama ensued in the following over as Colin Munro was caught on the first ball but the bowler overstepped, awarding the Islamabad opening batter a second chance. Only three deliveries later, Ali redeemed himself as he rattled Munro’s (8, 13b, 1×4) stumps.
The fourth batter in, Jordan Cox, took charge from the get-go as he announced himself on the crease with a maximum against Willey on just the fourth ball he faced. In the next over, he produced a boundary against Olly Stone to help Islamabad United end the powerplay at 32 for two.
Salman Ali Agha and Cox led the recovery for Islamabad. The two took on right-arm pacer Abbas Afridi, amassing 26 runs off his first two overs, as runs started to flow for the team after the powerplay. Khushdil Shah’s misjudgment in the deep cost two catches – in the seventh and ninth overs – as the third-wicket partnership grew to mount pressure on the home team.
Leg-spinner Usama Mir struck in the 12th over to cut short the third-wicket stand after he trapped Cox leg-before. The English batter, who had reviewed the on-field umpire’s decision, walked back for a 41 on 28 on the back of two boundaries and as many maximums after the DRS showed three reds.
Azam Khan could only manage to produce 13 from 10, including a four and a six, before he was caught by Willey at long-on, awarding Usama his second wicket of the night. Imad Wasim bagged a three-ball duck to bring Islamabad United down to 105-5 in 14.4 overs.
Skipper Shadab Khan joined Salman on the crease. The pair added 35 runs for the sixth-wicket stand before Shadab (11, 9b, 1×4) fell to Abbas. A ball later, Abbas got his third wicket of the night after Salman (52, 43b, 3x4s, 2x6s) was caught by Khushdil.
Ali dismissed Faheem Ashraf and Ubaid Shah cheaply and Naseem Shah was run out in the final over as Islamabad United finished at 144 in 20 overs.
Ali, bagging three wickets at the expense of just 19 runs, was awarded player of the match for his crucial bowling effort. Abbas too picked up three wickets, while Usama had two to his name. Willey returned with one scalp as well.
Defending 145, Islamabad United got off to a strong start as Naseem shattered opening batter Dawid Malan’s middle stumps, who had to return for a two-ball duck.
Reeza Hendricks joined Mohammad Rizwan in the center and the two successfully saw through Naseem’s incredible new ball spell. They stitched a solid partnership yielding 71 runs to bring stability to the innings, until Rizwan (43, 33b, 6x4s, 2x6s) fell to his counterpart who had brought himself into the attack in the 11th over.
Yasir Khan made eight off 11 before he fell victim to Imad, courtesy of a magnificent relay catch by Cox and Hales at deep midwicket.
Hendricks took on Shadab in the 17th over, smashing a six and two fours on three consecutive deliveries to complete his half-century whilst bringing his team closer to the target.
Shortly after, Tymal Mills struck to remove Hendricks (58, 46b, 6x4s, 1×6) and Naseem got Khushdil for just three runs in the penultimate over.
Iftikhar Ahmed (18 not out, 17b, 1×6) and Willey (7 not out, 6b, 1×4), facing Mills in the final over, completed the remaining four runs to finish the game for Multan Sultans, with one ball to spare.
Naseem was the best bowler for Islamabad United, picking up two wickets for 27 runs in four overs. Shadab, Imad and Mills had a wicket each.
Scores in brief
Multan Sultans beat Islamabad United by five wickets
Islamabad United 144 all out, 20 overs (Salman Ali Agha 52, Jordan Cox 41; Mohammad Ali 3-19, Abbas Afridi 3-33, Usama Mir 2-29)
Multan Sultans 145-5, 19.5 overs (Reeza Hendricks 58, Mohammad Rizwan 41; Naseem Shah 2-27)
Player of the match – Mohammad Ali (Multan Sultans)

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