United notch a close win to reach playoffs

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RAWALPINDI: Islamabad United’s run of fortunes continued unchecked as they achieved a close two-wicket win against hapless Quetta Gladiators to progress to the play-offs of the Pakistan Super League 8 following an exciting finish at the Pindi Stadium Sunday.

United chased down 180 runs victory target in the last over with Faheem Ashraf (39 not out) striking three consecutive fours off Odean Smith to settle the matter. Quetta recovered from a shaky start to hit up 179 for 6 with United ending up at 183 for 8 with three balls to spare. Requiring nine of the last over, Faheem settled the issue on the first three balls to further sink the Quetta team that is now left with few options to make it to the knockout stage.

The 58 runs stand for the seventh wicket between Faheem and Azam Khan (35) yet again kept United in the target chase.

Azam Khan (35) cracked some power-packed strokes during his 25-ball stay at the wicket. His two sixes came at the right time, helping the United reduce the run rate to less than ten runs per over. Azam, however, departed this time without finishing the match, and even Hassan Ali could survive a temptation and was next to go as Umaid Asif (3-37) picked two in one over to reduce United to 171-9 in 19 overs. Faheem Ashraf (39 not out) then struck three successive boundaries to achieve a win for Islamabad United.

 

Islamabad raced to fifty in just the fourth over as Collin Munro mustered 18 runs off the very first of Umaid Asif’s quota of overs. Naveen ul Haq’s introduction however saw the end of his partner Alex Hales’ (12) stay at the wicket. Najibullah Zadran plucked a sharp catch at mid-wicket to send Hales back to the pavilion.

Munaro reached his fifty off just 24 balls, hitting Iftikhar for his third six. Shadab Khan (8) who announced his arrival at the crease with a six soon lost his wicket and so did Munro minutes later as Islamabad United were reduced to 96 for 4.

It took Islamabad United less than nine overs to reach a hundred which turned out to be one of the fastest of the season.

Earlier, Umar Akmal’s (43 not out) bat unleashed a flurry of runs at the fag-end of Quetta Gladiators’ innings. The aging power-hitter struck five sixes and two fours during his 14-ball unbeaten knock to see Quetta raise the last 60 runs in less than four overs to get a decent 179 for 6 in 20 overs-a sharp improvements from a position where they lost the first four wickets for just 17 runs in first 5.3 overs. Umar looked too powerful at the leg side and did not even spare Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali during his brief unbeaten stay at the wicket.

Mohammad Nawaz (52) and Najibullah Zadran (59) earlier set a solid platform for Umar to showcase his striking power. Both put on 104 runs for the fifth wicket and left it to Umar to go blazing.

Zadran raised his fifty with the help of two sixes and five fours. Minutes later Nawaz also reached fifty courtesy to six fours but could not stay long. After reaching the half-century, the return of Fazalhaq Farooqui saw the end of his 44-ball knock. Farooqui who conceded 18 runs in his fourth due to some exceptional power-hitting by Umar Akmal, finished with the figures of 3 for 25.

 

It was the worst possible start for Quetta Gladiators after being put into bat first. Man of the Match Fazalhaq Farooqui dismissed both Quetta Gladiators openers within his first two overs. Will Smeed (0), and Yasir Khan (5) made early exits and when Mubasir Khan plucked it out of thin air at deep square leg to remove skipper Sarfaraz Amhad (3) of Faheem Ashraf, Gladiators were reduced to 12 for 3. Iftikhar Ahmad (2) who was one of the leading run-getters in the Bangladesh League was yet to showcase that spark in the PSL, and was next to go, leaving Gladiators in the dire strait at 17 for 4.

It was then left to Nawaz and Najibullah Zadran to start the rebuilding process.

Umar Akmal and Najeebullah Zadran were drafted into the team by Quetta Gladiators that desperately needed a win to stay in the competition. Rassie van der Dussan paved the way for Afghanistan Raehmanullah Gurbaz for Islamabad United.

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