A belligerent batting display from opening batsman Paul Stirling and an economical bowling spell from Faheem Ashraf guided Islamabad United to a comprehensive six-wicket win over Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League yesterday.
Chasing 157 to win, United were provided a perfect start to the run chase by the 30-year-old as he slogged Mohamed Nawaz for a six and dispatched him over for two fours in the first over and smoked Dale Steyn for four fours in the third.
Stirling brought up his half-century in just fifth over off 21 balls as his exploits with the bat saw United gather runs at a staggering 13 an over. He laid the perfect foundation for the run chase with a 76-run opening stand with Alex Hales (23 off 13) as United chased down the target with three overs spare.
Hales was the first batsman to depart and Stirling followed him to the pavilion after scoring 56 off 33, in a knock embellished with eight fours and two sixes. Both openers were clean bowled by leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood – the most successful bowler for Gladiators with two for 29 in four overs. Rohail Nazir, playing his first match in the PSL 6, showed glimpse of class, as the wicketkeeper-batsman made 34 off 28, laced with four fours and a six. He knitted a 37-run partnership for the third wicket with captain Shadab Khan (21 off 17, two fours).
Faheem returned a magnificent three for 11 from his four overs to compound Gladiators’ worries. The Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side had a terrible start with their top four batsmen back in the hut inside the batting powerplay with 41 runs on the board.
Hasan Ali accounted for Saim Ayub (five off three) and Faf du Plessis (17 off 11, three fours), while Faheem accounted for Cameron Delport (one off three) and Azam Khan (four off nine). Another captain’s innings from Sarfaraz, however, rescued the sinking ship and helped Gladiators to a respectable total as he stroked his fifth PSL fifty.
Sarfaraz with Ben Cutting (23 off 17, two fours and one six) knitted a 30-run partnership for the fifth wicket and contributed 63 runs for the sixth wicket with Mohamed Nawaz (31 not out off 29, one four, one six).
During the course of his innings, the wicketkeeper-batsman smashed four sixes – all in the 13th over of the innings off Iftikhar Ahmed. He got out to United’s star bowler of the match and eventual player of the match award winner, Faheem, after scoring 54 off 41. Hasan took two wickets for 23. Gladiators, after having played four matches in the PSL 6, are winless in the tournament.
Quetta Gladiators 156-7, 20 overs (Sarfaraz Ahmed 54, Mohamed Nawaz 31, Ben Cutting 23; Faheem Ashraf 3-11, Hasan Ali 2-23) lost to Islamabad United 157-4, 17 overs (Paul Stirling 56, Rohail Nazir 34, Alex Hales 23, Shadab Khan 21; Zahid Mahmood 2-29)
Player of the match: Faheem Ashraf (Islamabad United)
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