Islamabad United chug along to seventh win

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Sharjah - Islamabad United chugged along to their seventh victory in nine fixtures and cement their spot at the top of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) with a clinical win over the Quetta Gladiators. In what was a top of the table clash, the inaugural champions worked off a six-wicket win over Quetta at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday night.

Chasing a meagre 148, Islamabad United got home with 10 balls to spare. Opener JP Duminy led the way with a half-century, his second in this edition. The left-hander's 54 came from 47 deliveries and was peppered with four boundaries and two sixes. Hussain Talat remained unbeaten on a 17-ball 28 with two boundaries and two sixes, while Asif Ali was not out on 18 from seven balls, with two sixes.

Earlier on in the tournament, 147 might have been a winning score, but of late - and especially in Sharjah - teams look to have finally acquired the knack of pacing a T20 innings. Unperturbed by the asking rate after an early wicket, Islamabad continued to turn over the strike and build partnerships, aware the loss of wickets was the only route Quetta had of getting back into the game. After the fall of the first wicket, they put up partnerships of 45, 27, 44 and an unbeaten 20, making sure they didn't have to expose their lower middle order.

The Quetta Gladiators completed their League engagements, while Islamabad United still have one match left to play. They take on the Karachi Kings in the last League fixture on Friday night.

Earlier, the Quetta Gladiators appeared to be going nowhere and into nothingness with an innings that spluttered through the 20 overs. After their top order, which included their marquee imports were polished off, and captain Sarfraz Ahmed's defiance was extinguished, the Quetta Gladiators had threatened to self-implode.

Some senseless batting by Anwar Ali and Mohammad Nawaz almost saw them in danger of not lasting their full allotment of overs. But some better sense prevailed finally with Rilee Rossouw and Hassan Khan hand-holding them through to the 20 overs and to something which they could call a total.

It was well under-par and by no means threatening but then there was at least something to play with.  In hindsight, Rilee Rossouw, could have been pushed up the order. Southpaw Rossouw, traditionally a top-order batsman, perhaps came way too down and was left to fight for crumbs. After Shane Watson's one-over stay, his opening partner Jason Roy smacked three boundaries before being castled by Amad Butt.

Kevin Pietersen too lasted just an over before becoming Faheem Ashraf's first of three victims on the night. That brought the captain Sarfraz and Umar Amin, in place of Rameez Raja, together and the pair embarked on a damage control exercise. The duo added a crucial 64 runs for the fourth wicket during which Sarfraz smoked some lusty hits off Hussain Talat and leg-spinner Shadab Khan. But Talat was to get his revenge with Sarfraz failing to connect to a full toss. The Pakistan captain's 43 came from 30 deliveries with three boundaries and two sixes.

There were still four overs to go when Sarfraz departed but Anwar Ali and then Mohammad Nawaz launched a little too soon and paid the price for it. But Rossouw and Hasan Khan ensured there were no more heartaches with an unbroken 26-run stand for the eighth wicket. Faheem Ashraf was the stand-out for Islamabad United with three for 19, while Amad Butt took two for 30.

The bowling performance Islamabad put up was impressive, The Powerplay overs were disciplined, miserly even, and just when Quetta had to accelerate, the bowlers came up with a wicket.

Quetta's foreign players at the top were all kept quiet or removed early; Jason Roy, Kevin Pietersen, Shane Watson and Rilee Rossow made only 48 runs off 49 balls. It was down to no Islamabad bowler giving away free runs; even Shadab Khan, the only bowler who failed to take a wicket, was frugal.

Islamabad secure top spot with a game still to play; they are on 14 points with 7 wins from nine games. Quetta are still second, but could slip depending on results from Friday's two games.

Scoreboard

quetta gladiators

J Roy b Amad Butt       17

S Watson c Hales b Patel         8

Umar Amin c Hales b Amad Butt          28

K Pietersen c †Ronchi b Faheem Ashraf           7

Sarfraz Ahmed b Hussain Talat 43

R Rossouw not out       16

Anwar Ali c Duminy b Faheem Ashraf  2

M Nawaz c Duminy b Faheem Ashraf   1

Hassan Khan not out    15

EXTRAS: (lb6, nb1, w3)          10

TOTAL: (7 wkts; 20 overs)      147

FOW: 1-19, 2-30, 3-41, 4-105, 5-111, 6-118, 7-121

BOWLING: S Patel 2-0-14-1, M Sami 4-0-29-0, Faheem Ashraf 4-0-19-3, Amad Butt 4-0-30-2, Hussain Talat 3-0-29-1, Shadab Khan 3-0-20-0

islamabad united

JP Duminy c Hassan Khan b Rahat Ali  54

L Ronchi b Rahat Ali    10

A Hales c Watson b Mir Hamza           16

Shadab Khan b Watson            18

Hussain Talat not out    28

Asif Ali not out 18

EXTRAS: (w5)            5

TOTAL: (4 wkts;18.2 overs)    149

FOW: 1-13, 2-58, 3-85, 4-129

BOWLING: M Nawaz 2-0-17-0, Rahat Ali 3.2-0-33-2, Mir Hamza 4-0-27-1, Hassan Khan 2-0-15-0, S Watson 4-0-31-1, Anwar Ali 3-0-26-0

TOSS: Quetta Gladiators

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Jean-Paul Duminy

UMPIRES: Khalid Mahmood, Aleem Dar

TV UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz

MATCH REFEREE: Roshan Mahanama

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