Sultans romp to their fourth successive PSL final

By our correspondent
KARACHI: Multan Sultans reached their fourth successive final of HBL PSL as they beat Peshawar Zalmi by a dominating seven-wicket margin in the qualifier on Thursday night at National Bank Stadium, Karachi.
Peshawar Zalmi will face the winner of the eliminator one, scheduled between Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators on 15 March.
The Sultans’ bowling line-up showcased their depth as all the bowlers contributed towards limiting Zalmi to a below-par total of 146-7, which was later knocked down by the batters in 18.3 overs, registering a convincing win.
Multan Sultans’ opening batters, Yasir Khan and Muhammad Rizwan, set the tone for the chase with an impressive 61-run opening partnership. Yasir revealed his intentions from the get-go as he smashed Mehran Mumtaz for a maximum on just the second ball.
While Rizwan struggled to get off the blocks, Yasir hit Paul Walter for three boundaries in the fourth over. Sultans notched 45 in the powerplay while the 50-run opening partnership came off 39 balls.
Rizwan buckled under pressure in the eighth over as he succumbed to Aamir Jamal for a scratchy 15 off 21 balls with Saim Ayub taking the catch. In the next over, Yasir brought up his maiden HBL PSL half-century off just thirty balls.
At the halfway mark, Sultans required a shade above run-a-ball with nine wickets in hand. Mehran returned in the 11th over and dismissed belligerent Yasir for 54 off 37 balls, comprising seven boundaries and one six.
Johnson Charles and Usman Khan stitched a 35-run third-wicket partnership until Charles’ (11, 17b, 1×4) troubled stay at the crease was ended by Salman Irshad with a fine yorker.
Iftikhar Ahmed (22 not out, 8b, 3x4s, 1×6) walked in and bludgeoned Salman for three boundaries. With a mere eight needed off the last two overs, he smashed Wood for a maximum followed by a single, while Usman (36 not out, 28b, 3x4s) hit the winning runs, taking Sultans to the final of HBL PSL 9.
Mehran, Aamir and Salman picked up one wicket each.
Earlier, Peshawar Zalmi won the toss and elected to bat first. David Willey struck in the first over, taking his tally of HBL PSL 9 powerplay wickets to eight, as Saim, hit a short ball toward the square boundary but was pouched by Yasir.
Mohammad Haris joined Babar Azam in the middle for a 47-run second-wicket partnership.
Haris raced to 22 off 13 balls on the back of four boundaries before Mohammad Ali pitched one just outside off-stump on a nagging length, inducing an edge that was caught by Rizwan. Zalmi finished the powerplay with 51-2 on the board.
Usama Mir, introduced into the attack in the eighth over, dismissed Haseebullah, who cut the last ball of the over straight in the hands of Ali at short third.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore joined Babar to steady Zalmi’s innings with a decent fourth-wicket partnership of 44 off 35 balls. With a boundary in the 11th over, Babar brought up his 1000 T20 runs in 2024.
Chris Jordan, bowling the 14th over, unleashed a lethal yorker as he hit the base of Babar’s (46, 42b, 5x4s) off-stump leaving him stunned, with the scorecard reading 101-4.
Babar also crossed the 500-run mark in HBL PSL 9, becoming only the second batter, besides Rizwan, to notch this feat twice in the tournament’s history.
An over later, Usama returned to bowl the last over of his spell and took his HBL PSL 9 tally of wickets to 23, as he dismissed Kohler-Cadmore for a-run-a-ball 24. Usama, who holds the Fazal Mahmood Cap in HBL PSL 9, also became the bowler with joint second-most wickets in an HBL PSL season, with only Hasan Ali ahead of him with 25 scalps.
Rovman Powell, who chipped in with 12 off 11 on the back of a solitary boundary, departed in the 18th over as Jordan bagged his second wicket. The penultimate over saw drama as Abbas Afridi dismissed Aamir Jamal (1, 3b), while a ball later Luke Wood smashed him for a six and a four on successive balls.
Jordan bowled an impressive last over giving away just three runs as Zalmi scrambled their way to 146-7 in the stipulated 20 overs. Wood (14, 7b, 1×4, 1×6) and Paul Walter (14, 11b, 2x4s) remained unbeaten after adding 15 runs for the seventh wicket.
Usama and Jordan bagged two wickets each while Willey, Ali and Abbas chipped in with one each.
Scores in brief:

Multan Sultans beat Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets
Peshawar Zalmi 146-7, 20 overs (Babar Azam 46, Tom Kohler-Cadmore 24, Mohammad Haris 22; Usama Mir 2-16, Chris Jordan 2-28)
Multan Sultans 147-3, 18.3 overs (Yasir Khan 54 not out, Usman Khan 36 not out, Iftikhar Ahmed 22 not out; Aamir Jamal 1-23, Mehran Mumtaz 1-28, Salman Irshad 1-28)
Player of the match – Usama Mir (Multan Sultans)

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