United script crucial win over Sultans to enter playoffs

By our correspondent
LAHORE: Home team Islamabad United beat Multan Sultans in a thrilling run-fest by three wickets to qualify for the playoffs of HBL PSL 9 on Sunday evening at Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi. Multan Sultans and Islamabad United are now placed first and second on the points table with 12 and 11 points respectively and playoff qualifications sealed.
The second fixture for today, featuring Lahore Qalandars and Quetta Gladiators, will take place at National Bank Stadium in Karachi at 7pm.
Islamabad United’s pursuit of a mammoth 229-run target was jolted on the second ball of the innings as Alex Hales fell for a golden duck, with David Willey picking him up for the seventh time in T20s.
In the following over pacer Mohammad Ali outfoxed Salman Ali Agha as he took a brilliant return catch leaving United in dire straits, with the scorecard reading 4-2. Veteran batter, Colin Munro and skipper Shadab Khan joined forces to bail out United.
The duo put on a 141-run third-wicket partnership off 64 balls, producing the third-highest partnership of HBL PSL 9. The fourth over of the innings was taken for 19 runs setting the tone for the partnership. United scored 65-2 in the powerplay.
Usama Mir’s first and second over of the spell yielded 21 and 20 runs respectively, as Munro and Shadab went berserk.
Abbas Afridi, bowling the 13th over, brought the Sultans back in the game with two wickets. First, he dismissed Shadab (54, 31b, 6x4s, 2x6s) and then Azam Khan for a two-ball duck.
The following over saw the departure of Munro (84, 40b, 9x4s, 5x6s) as Jordan struck to remove him with the scorecard reading 157-5 after 14 overs.
Haider Ali, batting at six, chipped in with 19 off 13, hitting Usama for a hat-trick of boundaries before falling to Ali in the 17th over. With 38 required off the last three overs, Faheem struck Jordan for a six on the first ball of the 18th over bringing the equation down to 26 needed off 12.
Usama bowled the penultimate over giving away 13 runs as Imad hit him for back-to-back boundaries. Abbas, defending 13 off the final over, gave away five off the first three balls before dismissing Faheem (23, 14b, 2x4s, 1×6).
Naseem Shah took a crucial single on the fourth ball to give strike back to Imad (30 not out, 13b, 4x4s, 1×6), who hit a crucial six down the ground on the fifth ball to level the scores. A boundary off the last ball gave United the ticket to playoffs, also registering the third-highest successful chase in HBL PSL history.
Abbas picked up three wickets. Ali chipped in with two while Willey and Usama had one each to their name.
Earlier, Islamabad United bowlers were put to the sword after skipper Shadab won the toss and elected to field first. The Sultans’ opening batters, Mohammad Rizwan and Yasir Khan, got their team off to a brisk start with the latter being the aggressor.
Yasir hit Imad for two boundaries in the second over and then tonked Faheem for two towering sixes and a four in the fourth over.
Hunain Shah, bowling the fifth over, brought an end to the 44-run opening partnership as he rattled Yasir’s (33, 16b, 4x4s, 2x6s) stumps. A ball later, Rizwan brought out his typical flick over the leg side and hit Hunain for a maximum.
Faheem pinned Rizwan (20, 17b, 2x4s, 1×6) leg-before wicket on the last ball of powerplay leaving Sultans 58-2.
Johnson Charles, playing his first HBL PSL 9 game, joined Usman in the middle to runriot against United’s bowling line-up. They added 86 off just 44 balls for the third-wicket partnership.
Charles smoked Shadab for his first six in the 10th over and an over later he smashed Hunain for two fours and six in a space of four balls.
The 12th and 13th overs were ransacked for 17 runs each as Usman and Charles took turns against Shadab and Mills respectively to continue the onslaught. In the following over, Faheem finally got rid of Charles (42, 18b, 3x4s, 3x6s) leaving Sultans 144-2.
Usman took the charge against Imad and Shadab in the 15th and 16th overs, hitting four boundaries and two sixes. Iftikhar Ahmed’s stay at the crease was brought to an end by Naseem who removed him for 13 off 10 balls, comprising two boundaries, while also cutting short the 54-run fifth-wicket partnership.
Usman and Chris Jordan hit two boundaries and a six respectively off the penultimate over taking 16 runs off it. Usman (100 not out, 50b, 15x4s, 3x6s) brought up his second HBL PSL 9 century, the third of his HBL PSL career, in the last over.
Jordan’s unbeaten 15-run cameo off seven balls meant that Sultans finished with 228-4, the highest first-innings total of HBL PSL 9. For Islamabad, Faheem picked up two wickets while Naseem and Hunain picked up one each.
Scores in brief:
Islamabad United beat Multan Sultans by three wickets
Multan Sultans 228-4, 20 overs (Usman Khan 100 not out, Johnson Charles 42; Faheem Ashraf 2-32)
Islamabad United 232-7, 20 overs (Colin Munro 84, Shadab Khan 54, Imad Wasim 30 not out; Abbas Afridi 3-40, Mohammad Ali 2-44)
Player of the match – Colin Munro – (Islamabad United)
Tomorrow’s fixture: Karachi Kings vs Peshawar Zalmi at National Bank Stadium, Karachi (9pm)

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