KARACHI: Lewis Gregory came to the rescue of Islamabad United as the two-time former Pakistan Super League winners edged past Multan Sultans by three wickets at the National Stadium on Sunday night.
The game three of HBL PSL 6 went to the wire with neither team out of the contest until the penultimate over, which began with 20 runs still required by Islamabad to overhaul Multan’s 150-8. Man-of-the-match Gregory killed off Multan’s challenge then and there as the England international crunched one six and three fours in that over from ex-Pakistan seamer Sohail Tanvir.
Sohail, brought into the attack from the University Road end, had given away 19 from his first three overs, but was carted for exactly the same number of runs in the 19th over. With only a single needed from the final over, Sohaibullah bowled a wide to hand Islamabad their fourth triumph in seven meetings with Multan.
Until Gregory went to the crease, the Islamabad innings was in a shambles as the winners of the title in 2016 and 2018 were inexplicably inept during their run chase, losing six wickets for 44 runs in the space of 40 balls, following an opening partnership of 30 between Phil Salt and Alex Hales.
The rut began when young paceman Mohammad Umar marked his T20 debut with a wicket on the fourth ball — a rank full toss which was slapped by Salt (13) to James Vince at midwicket. Islamabad captain Shadab Khan (5) swung his bat wildly at Carlos Braithwaite, but only found Rilee Rossouw taking a simple catch in the deep before the evergreen Shahid Afridi deceived Hales (29 off 20 balls, two sixes and two fours) with a well-disguised googly that hit the middle stump.
Afridi took 2-24, held a catch and ran out Iftikhar Ahmed with a direct hit after being dismissed first ball during the first half of play.
For the third game running, fielding first proved to be a decisive factor when Multan were restricted to a manageable total from Islamabad’s point of view despite Rizwan playing a sublime knock of 71 off 53 balls with the aid of eight fours and two sixes.
But the mysterious omission of Shan Masood was the talking point because Shan had not only captained Multan during their PSL 5 campaign but also finished as their top run-getter.
Rizwan, who was installed as skipper just days before the tournament was to begin, justified the decision with a well-constructed innings. The wicket-keeper/batsman serenely went to his 13th half-century in just 31 deliveries, but gradually slowed down as wickets were going down at the other end rather too quickly.
Chris Lynn, who made only one run in his 200th innings in T20 format, James Vince (16), Rilee Rossouw (25 off 14 balls, two sixes and two fours), Sohaib Maqsood (2) and Khushdil Shah (4) all went in that order as Multan slipped to 108-5 in the 14th over.
Mohammad Wasim, the 19-year-old paceman from North Waziristan, couldn’t have dreamt of starting his T20 career with the most prized scalp of Rizwan, among his brilliant return of 3-29, when he produced a great delivery that jacked in sharply to pluck out the off stump. Rizwan’s 71 constituted 47.33 per cent of the team total.
Multan surely had their moments but it was the cool-headed Gregory who denied them in the end as the 28-year-olds’ 31-ball 49 (six fours and one six) came on the heels of a tidy four-over spell of 2-31 earlier in the evening.
Mohammad Rizwan b Wasim 71
C.J. Lynn c Salt b Faheem 1
J.M. Vince c Faheem b Gregory 16
R.R. Rossouw c Wasim b Shadab 25
Sohaib Maqsood c Iftikhar b Wasim 2
Khushdil Shah c Hales b Gregory 7
C.R. Brathwaite not out 22
Shahid Afridi c Shadab b Wasim 0
Sohail Tanvir c and b Hasan 4
EXTRAS: (LB-1, W-1) 2
TOTAL: (for eight wkts, 20 overs) 150
FALL OF WKTS: 1-5 (Lynn), 2-52 (Vince), 3-87 (Rossouw), 4-94 (Sohaib), 5-108 (Khushdil), 6-140 (Rizwan), 7-140 (Afridi), 8-150 (Sohail).
DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Umar, Sohaibullah.
BOWLING: Hasan Ali 4-0-16-1; Faheem Ashraf 3-0-27-1 (1w); Mohammad Wasim 4-0-29-3; Gregory 4-0-31-2; Zafar Gohar 1-0-13-0; Shadab Khan 4-0-33-1
P.D. Salt c Vince b Umar 13
A.D. Hales b Afridi 29
Shadab c Rossouw b Brathwaite 5
H. Talat c sub (Shan) b Khushdil 10
Asif Ali c Vince b Afridi 9
Iftikhar Ahmed run out 1
L. Gregory not out 49
Faheem c Afridi b Brathwaite 22
Zafar Gohar not out 3
EXTRAS: (LB-2, W-4) 10
TOTAL: (for seven wkts, 19 overs) 151
FALL OF WKTS: 1-30 (Umar), 2-43 (Shadab), 3-55 (Hales), 4-73 (Asif), 5-74 (Iftikhar), 6-74 (Hussain), 7-117 (Faheem).
DID NOT BAT: Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim.
BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 4-0-38-0 (1w); Sohaibullah 3-0-26-0 (1w); Mohammad Umar 3-0-34-1; Brathwaite 4-0-23-2 (1w); Shahid Afridi 4-0-24-2 (1w); Khushdil Shah 1-0-4-1.
RESULT: Islamabad United won by three wickets.
UMPIRES: Ahsan Raza (Pakistan) and R.K. Illingworth (England).
TV UMPIRE: Aleem Dar (Pakistan).
MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Mahanama (Sri Lanka).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Lewis Gregory (Islamabad United).
MONDAY’S FIXTURE: Lahore Qalandars vs Quetta Gladiators (Karachi, 7:00pm PST).
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2021