Zalmi eliminated United to stay alive

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LAHORE: Peshawar Zalmi held their nerves magnificently to overcome a tough fight from Islamabad United to move into the second Eliminator of the Pakistan Super League-8 here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday night.
In a match of fluctuating fortunes, Islamabad United roared back to contain Peshawar Zalmi to 183 for eight after their explosive start but despite having control in their hands, Islamabad wilted and could muster 171 runs for six, thus losing their must-win game by 12 runs. Now the winner Zalmis will take on defending champions Lahore Qalandars in the second Eliminator on Friday (today) at the same venue.
In their chase, Islamabad United pegged back into the game after having lost an early wicket of Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the second over. Azmatullah Omarzai provided the breakthrough to Peshawar when at 10 he sent Gurbaz packing.
But Alex Hales and Sohaib Maqsood were the rescuers of Islamabad. The two batters attacked Zalmi bowlers with some brilliant boundaries. They made 115 runs for the second wicket partnership and put Islamabad in the driving seat.
Aamer Jamal separated the two as he clean bowled Sohaib Maqsood but not before the right-hander had scored 60 runs in 48 balls. Alex however, held the fort for Islamabad and completed his half century in 27 balls. Salman Irshad gave another edge to Peshawar with the wicket of Azam Khan. Then Jamal tilted the game Zalmis’ way with Alex’s wicket at 57.
Later, Faheen Ashraf’s run out by Jamal at 5 came was a big below to Islamabad which were floundering at 142 for five by the 17th over.
After a little gap, Salman uprooted Munro’s wicket with a tempted delivery and Islamabad were down six wickets at 154, in the 19th over. While Shadab 26 remained not out at 26 along with Hasan Ali.
The losing team captain Shadab Khan admitted the mistake they made during the match. “I think we were a bit sloppy in the first ten overs while bowling. Similarly in the batting, things were under control for us but we let it slip.
“Credit goes to Jamal who executed his yorkers and the ball was reversing too. At the end of the day, win and loss are part of the game but when you take a decision (on toss), you have to back yourself. Our body language wasn’t that good in the first 10 overs which gave them a good start. We qualified for the playoffs but as a team we weren’t perfect and that is why we haven’t made it to the final. We could have finished on the top two spots but we didn’t play smart cricket,” said Shadab.
Amer Jamal and Salman Irshad shared two wickets each with one gone to Azmatullah.
Earlier, Islamabad won the toss and decided to bowl first against Peshawar Zalmi who were off to a fiery start thanks to fifth half century of the season from openers Babar Azam and Saim Ayub who knitted 60 runs for the opening wickets in only 4.4 overs. And later Babar’s 36 runs stand with Habeebullah Khan (15) and a useful 41 runs partnership with Mohammad Haris steered the score.
However, the middle order Zalmi collapse halted to flow of runs that was ignited by the combined effort to United bowlers.
Islamabad pacer Mohammad Wasim Jr initiated the much-needed breakthrough to his team with the wickets of Ayub, who scored 23 runs in 16 balls. Saim miscued a pull shot and was caught at mid-on by Faheem Ashraf.
Azam who was going great guns knocked his fifth half century of the season and when he reached 64 runs in 39 balls with the help of 10 fours, Shadab Khan, his compatriot trapped him leg before wicket.
The Zalmi captain thus also became the fastest batter to score 9,000 runs in T20 cricket. Azam needed 35 runs to achieve the milestone which he did with ease courtesy some splendid shots.
Haris for his part came up with an impulsive innings in the middle overs with a brisk 34 in 17 balls, smashing three fours and two sixes.
With the fall of Babar and Haris at 137 and 148 respective, Zalmi started to lose wickets at regular intervals. As Tom Kohler-Cadmore stood up with the guard from the 15th over till the final delivery and witnessed James Neesham and Aamer Jamal march back cheaply. However, Azmatullah Omarzai contributed 10 runs while supporting Cadmore before falling in the final over. Whereas, Cadman after getting 16 was run out on the last ball.
In a collective effort, Islamabad United bowlers took six wickets while two were run out. Shadab snared two while Fazalhaq Farooqi, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali and M Wasim got one apiece.

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