Islamabad United move to 2nd spot after securing crucial win against Karachi Kings

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RAWALPINDI, Mar 08 On the back of a dogged performance with the bat and ball, Islamabad United secured a vital five-wicket win against Karachi Kings on Thursday night at Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi.

In doing so, United also became the franchise with the most consecutive wins against one opposition in HBL PSL history, as they beat Kings for the eighth time on the trot.

Shadab Khan-led United now sits in the second position on the points table with nine points edging Gladiators and Zalmi with better net run rate while Kings are stationed at fifth with six points.

Chasing a modest total of 151, United’s opening batters put on a 28-run opening partnership before Mir Hamza drew the first blood for the Kings removing Colin Munro (9, 11b, 2x4s) followed by the prized scalp of Alex Hales (18, 13b, 2x4s, 1×6) as well.

Islamabad accumulated 47 runs in the powerplay losing two wickets with Salman Ali Agha and Shadab Khan in the middle. The duo kept the scorecard ticking and at the halfway mark United required 73 off 60 balls.

Blessing Muzarabani, bowling the 13th over, brought an end to the 58-run third-wicket partnership as he got Salman caught behind for 33 off 30 balls, including a boundary and a six. Zahid Mahmood took a simple return catch in the 15th over to jolt United again as Azam returned for a meager nine off eight balls.

Islamabad needed a mere 36 off the last five overs when skipper Shadab (34, 26b, 4x4s) was undone by Hamza as Seifert pouched another catch. Faheem Ashraf announced himself with a towering six to the crease.

Haider Ali and Faheem bailed out United with an unbeaten 36-run sixth-wicket partnership that sealed the deal for them. Haider looked in sublime touch, hitting the winning runs in the penultimate over, as he racked up a fluent unbeaten 26 off 16 balls with two fours and a six.

Faheem, named player of the match for his heroics with the ball and fine efforts with bat and field, too returned with an unbeaten 12 on eight as United bagged a crucial win with five wickets in hand and eight balls to spare. Hamza picked up a three-wicket haul while Muzarabani and Zahid bagged one each.

Earlier, Islamabad United won the coin toss and asked Karachi Kings to bat first. The Kings’ opening pair of Shan Masood and Tim Seifert got off to a steady start with a 34-run opening partnership, which was broken by Faheem in the fifth over. Shan’s (10, 12b, 1×4) lean form in the HBL PSL 9 continued as he top-edged a length delivery against Faheem with Imad Wasim taking a fine catch.

After Kings accumulated 38-1 in the powerplay, Faheem returned to remove Seifert, who had raced to 26 off 19 balls comprising five boundaries, in the seventh over courtesy of a spectacular catch by Munro at deep cover boundary.

Veteran batter, Shoaib Malik struggled to get off the blocks and skied one off the bowling of Imad returning for a paltry six-ball one leaving Karachi Kings 45-3 after eight overs. Tymal Mills, returning to the United side in place of Naseem Shah, struck on the second ball of his spell to dismiss Mohammad Nawaz (5, 3b, 1×4).

James Vince and Kieron Pollard got together in the ninth over and brought a semblance of stability to the Kings’ innings with a 58-run fifth-wicket partnership off just 33 balls.

Pollard took apart Shadab, hitting him for three sixes across two overs, while Vince hit Mills for three consecutive boundaries in the 14th over. On the following ball, Mills took his revenge and brought an end to Vince’s 29-run outing aided by five boundaries.

Faheem returned to complete his quota of four overs as he sent down two economical overs, the 15th and 17th of the innings, yielding only nine runs and rounding off his four-over spell for just 16 runs.

Hunain Shah struck in the 17th over to remove Pollard for 39 off 28 balls on the back of three boundaries and as many sixes. Muhammad Irfan Khan (16, 13b, 1×4, 1×6) also followed Pollard in the next over as Mills outfoxed him.

Karachi scrapped their way to 150-7 in the allotted overs. Mills picked up three wickets. Faheem chipped in with two wickets while Imad and Hunain bagged one each.

Scores in brief:

Islamabad United beat Karachi Kings by five wickets

Karachi Kings 150-7, 20 overs (Kieron Pollard 39, James Vince 29; Tymal Mills 3-34, Faheem Ashraf 2-16)

Islamabad United 151-5, 18.4 overs (Shadab Khan 34, Salman Ali Agha 33, Haider Ali 26 not out; Mir Hamza 3-41)

Player of the match – Faheem Ashraf (Islamabad United)

Today’s ’s fixture: Peshawar Zalmi vs Quetta Gladiators, Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi (7pm)