An all-round performance from Faheem Ashraf and Asif Ali’s quick-fire innings saw Islamabad United edge Lahore Qalandars in the opening match of the Pakistan Super League 2019.
With 172 to win, Islamabad made a shaky start to their run chase as they kept on losing wickets at quick intervals.
Rahat Ali accounted for the top four batsmen, who rather lost their wickets due to poor shot selection. Rizwan Hussain was the first one to depart when he was looking to hit the ball on to the on side but got a thick outside edge, which ballooned the ball straight up.
On the very next ball, Ronchi smashed a rather ordinary delivery straight to short fine-leg, reducing Islamabad to 45/2.
Delport and Talat stabilized the ship with a 55-run partnership before Delport was snapped by Rahat Ali.
Faheem Ashraf (23* off 11) and Asif Ali (36 off 19) then took the game on with the former deploying the reverse sweep to disrupt Yasir’s line of attack. Asif Ali, on the other hand, used his back foot load up to launch into the ball which was in his slot.
With 28 required off the last three overs, Asif struck two consecutive sixes off Rahat’s bowling to further cut down the equation. Faheem struck the winning runs off Hafeez’s bowling as Islamabad chased down the total with four balls to spare. Both batsmen constructed a 59-run partnership to see their side home.
Earlier, Qalandars were put in to bat first by the defending champions. Fakhar Zaman (65 off 44) and Sohail Akhtar (37 off 30) provided a solid platform to their side but the middle order couldn’t quite cash in.
At one stage, Qalandars were cruising at 121/1 in 13 overs but some decent variations from the opposition halted the scoring rate.
AB de Villiers played some eye-catching shots but was undone by a slower ball from Maqsood which was caught superbly by Phil Salt at the boundary lines.
Faheem Ashraf was the pick of the bowlers with his two wickets and his all-round performance earned him the man of the match award.