PSL '16, Match 9: Islamabad United openers help demolish Lahore Qalandars by eight wickets
In the ninth match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), bottom-placed teams, Islamabad United and the Lahore Qalandars faced off at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Both of them went into the match needing a win to move up the rankings in the table.
Islamabad United missed the services of their captain, Misbah-ul-Haq with Shane Watson deputising for the Pakistan Test captain. West Indian big-hitting opener, Chris Gayle was the absentee for the Lahore Qalandars.
The pitch prepared was an absolute flat-tracker, a batting paradise, and it seemed like it would be a high-scoring contest after Islamabad United chose to field first after winning the toss.
With Gayle missing, it seemed like the Qalandars lacked some firepower early on as they lost opener, Cameron Delport cheaply. Captain, Azhar Ali and Naved Yasin tried building a partnership, but they could not get going and were not able to convert their starts as both got out in the twenties. Umar Akmal, despite showing intent by hitting two sixes, was also dismissed in the twenties.
Dwayne Bravo and Mohammad Rizwan then helped the Qalandars get back on track as they put on 60 runs for the fifth wicket. Bravo's 17-ball 26 and Rizwan's 27-ball 50 guided their side to a total of 166/6 in 20 overs.
On any other track this might have been a good score, however, without a total of at least 180 on a flat track as the one that was played on, it was always going to be a tough task to defend a relatively mediocre total.
Mohammad Sami was the pick of the bowlers for Islamabad United as he picked up two wickets while Rumman Raees, Imran Khalid and Saeed Ajmal picked up a wicket each.
The Qalandars needed something special to restrict the opposition batsmen from chasing down 167 on a flat pitch. But, Islamabad United openers, Sharjeel Khan and Shane Watson played brilliant knocks to pile misery on the Qalandars’ bowlers.
In addition to some brilliant batting by the openers, the fielding from the Qalandars’ players did not help as a couple of drop catches might have given a different result.
Watson and Sharjeel were involved in a 153-run partnership for the first wicket which they reached in just 13.4 overs. After Watson got out for a 47-ball 79, things slowed down a bit for United. Andre Russell, who was promoted, was not able to finish the job for his side as he got out for just two runs.
However, in the very same over, Sharjeel hit back-to-back sixes to take his side to an eight-wicket win with 25 balls to spare. Sharjeel was named as the man-of-the-match for his 43-ball 79 that included five fours and seven sixes. Ehsan Adil picked up two wickets for the Qalandars.
Sharjeel, who was the best player for United, and Rizwan, who was the best player for the Qalandars, were not picked for the Pakistan World T20 squad and their respective knocks showed that it might have been a wrong decision on the part of the Pakistan Cricket Board to have ignored these two talented players.
Brief Scores: Islamabad United (toss) 169/2, 15.5 overs (Sharjeel Khan 79*, Watson 79; Adil 2/41) beat Lahore Qalandars 166/6, 20 overs (Rizwan 50*, Azhar Ali 27; Sami 2/21, Khalid 1/16) by eight wickets.