Islamabad United thrash Quetta Gladiators to seal playoff berth

Islamabad United players celebrate during the 21st match of the Pakistan Super League in Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on March 5, 2023. — PSL 

Islamabad United defeated Quetta Gladiators by two wickets in the 21st fixture of the eighth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi today.

While chasing a target of 180 runs, United reached home in 19.3 overs and became the second team to qualify for the playoffs after Lahore Qalandars.

During the run-chase, United lost a wicket in the first over when Rahmanullah Gurbaz (0) was dismissed by Naseem Shah.

However, Colin Munro and Alex Hales took the attack to the Gladiators by adding 52 runs in 25 balls.

Hales went back to the hut after scoring 12 runs in nine balls after a sharp reflex catch by Najibullah Zadran on the bowling of Naveen-ul-Haq.

Munro, who was the dominant partner in the partnership with Hales, continued to smack Gladiators bowlers to all parts of the ground after being joined by skipper Shadab Khan. But the duo went back to the pavilion in quick succession with Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz bagging the crucial wickets.

Munro scored 63 runs in 29 balls with the help of five fours and four sixes. Meanwhile, Shadab could only score eight runs.

Mubasir Khan (5) and Asif Ali (6) also departed quickly as the Gladiators made their way back into the game.

However, Azam Khan (35 off 25) and Faheem Ashraf (39 off 31) stitched a crucial partnership of 58 runs in 44 balls to keep United on track for victory.

Despite Umaid Asif claiming two wickets in the penultimate over, United held their nerve to get over the line in the final over.

Umaid ended with three wickets, whereas Nawaz clinched two scalps.

Earlier, United were set a target of 180 runs after deciding to bowl first against the Gladiators.

At one stage, it seemed as if United would be chasing a significantly low target but the Gladiators made an impressive comeback in the second half of the innings.

Fazalhaq Farooqi struck in the first over after he trapped Will Smeed — who bagged a golden duck — in front of the stumps.

The Afghanistan pacer clinched his second wicket in the third over of the innings after Yasir Khan, five runs in 11 balls, spooned one straight to Shadab Khan at extra cover.

Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmed’s decision to bat at number three also backfired as he was caught brilliantly by Mubasir Khan on the fence while trying to play a pull shot. He scored three runs and fell to Faheem Ashraf.

Soon after, Iftikhar Ahmed (2) also made his way back to the pavilion after presenting a simple catch to Shadab at mid-on as Faheem bagged his second wicket of the match.

With the Gladiators reeling at 17-4, Mohammad Nawaz and Najibullah Zadran rescued their side with a superb hundred partnership while also notching up fifties.

However, Fazalhaq broke the stand in the 17th over as Nawaz was caught in the deep after scoring 52 runs in 44 balls.

Meanwhile, Zadran was cleaned up by Rumman Raees after scoring 59 runs in 34 balls with the help of five fours and three sixes.

Umar Akmal, who was making a comeback in the side, played a blinder to provide impetus in the death overs. The right-hander scored unbeaten 43 runs in only 14 balls.

Quetta Gladiators, who are at the bottom of the points table, are nearly eliminated from PSL 8 since they need to win all their remaining games and hope other results go their way if they’re to get through to the playoffs.

Playing XIs:

Quetta Gladiators: Yasir Khan, Will Smeed, Iftikhar Ahmed, Najibullah Zadran, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk/c), Umar Akmal, Mohammad Nawaz, Odean Smith, Umaid Asif, Naseem Shah, Naveen-ul-Haq

Islamabad United: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Alex Hales, Colin Munro, Azam Khan (wk), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan (c), Faheem Ashraf, Mubasir Khan, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees, Fazalhaq Farooqi

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