Islamabad United beat the Quetta Gladiators by 5 wickets. Here is the full commentary and scorecard.
An aggressive 78 runs from the United opener, Sam Billings, showed that even the best young left-arm spinners, Mohammed Nawaz and Hasan Khan, have their weaknesses and Billings exposed these as he kept United in the game during every turn and twist of the contest. He combined timing with power hitting (much like Sarfaraz and Rossouw from the Gladiators) to take the United over the line with ease.
Earlier in the day, the Gladiators managed a definite below par 148 at Sharjah thanks to the disciplined bowling by the men in orange. The PSL found another star in the making in the match named Shadab Khan who was difficult to read as he spun the ball both ways. However, it was not a one man show as every bowler showed why they were in the team of defending champions.
Mohammed Sami bowled in-swinging yorkers and being responsible for the second duck of the tournament for Kevin Pieterson. Shane Watson showed his pace and length variations as he was also hard to hit to the boundaries. The Gladiators coveted batting line-up never really got going as wickets well at regular intervals as their run rate was below 7 in the first 15 overs. Although Mahmudullah Riyad and Thisara Perera took the score to 148 with a late partnership. The score was competitive but it was not enough to defend against a chase led by Sam Billings.
As Ahmed Shahzad got under way with a quick start with KP and the match winning duo of Sarfaraz and Rossouw waiting in the dugout, the Gladiators were definitely looking for a score near or over 200. However, the fast duo of Mohammed Sami and Shane Watson used pace, accuracy, line and length to get the Gladiators of the road leading to 200 as Sami went through Shahzad and KP. Also, thanks to Shadab the Gladiators only got 56 runs in the last 10 overs with 4 wickets.
Billings found the gap regularly in the first 6 overs and cleared ropes with ease. He showed respect when respect was due as he took singles off the good balls but he never let the scoreboard to stop ticking over but when he did go, he did not think of who was bowling just where to send the ball next. Billings took a liking to Perera as he smashed 40 runs of his 3.1 overs. The average United strike rate was 100 while Billings was flying on 150.
Earlier in the day while the Gladiators were batting, Rossouw came down the wicket to the young Shadab Khan while on 5 and missed the ball completely. A not so clean pick-up from the keeper, Brad Haddin, meant that he was safe for now. However, right in the next over Rossouw hit a ball down the throat of deep midwicket for 7. On the other end of the spectrum, the Gladiators also made a mistake in the field. When Watson joined Billings with the side at 73 for 3 and the Gladiators looking to expose their weaknesses, he edged Mohammed Nawaz to the keeper before even opening his account but the ball just popped out of the hands of Sarfaraz like it hadn’t even gone in. That was the moment that took the game away from the Gladiators as the duo of Watson and Billings took the game over the line for United.
Even though Hasan Khan might have been on the losing side, he will never forget his spell in this match and that is the beauty of the PSL. While bowling to Pakistan’s most successful test captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, he got hit for four with Misbah’s trademark sweep shot. Two balls later, Hasan bowled the same ball but this time he let it slide on with the arm and the captain of the orange team was too late with his sweep and was given out for 10 without making a huge impact on the game.
This victory for United means that Gladiators and them have won 2 out of their 3 games and have occupied the 2nd and 3rd position with the Gladiators ahead with a better net run-rate and the Zalmi at the top.
The Cornered Tiger