Peshawar Zalmi opener Kamran Akmal and debutant quick Umaid Asif seal easy win over Islamabad United

Waseem Ahmed 24/02/2018
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Peshawar quick Umaid Asif took four wickets. Image courtesy @thePSLt20/Twitter.

Peshawar Zalmi fast bowler Umaid Asif ripped through the Islamabad United top order on his PSL debut, picking up 4-23 to secure a 34-run win in their clash in Dubai on Saturday.

Batting first on a wicket that offered a lot more pace and bounce than typical Dubai wickets, Peshawar were given a rollicking start by wicketkeeper batsman Kamran Akmal who blasted 53 off just 32 balls. Darren Sammy’s side reached 176-6 which proved more than enough.

Islamabad were never in the hunt, with opening bowler Asif taking the first four wickets using his height and pace to great effect. Leg-spinner Ibtisam Sheikh chipped in with 3-20 as Islamabad were restricted to 142-9.

ANDRE RUSSELL GETS A HARSH WELCOME

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell was making his comeback to international competitive cricket after a one-year hiatus for anti-doping code violation. While the rest of the world wanted to see Russell in full flow with the ball and bat, Peshawar opener Akmal did not share those sentiments. Akmal smashed the first four balls bowled by Russell for two boundaries and a six as the West Indian went for 21 runs on his return.

Kamran Akmal hit a quick-fire fifty. Pic courtesy @thePSLt20/Twitter.

Kamran Akmal hit a quick-fire fifty. Pic courtesy @thePSLt20/Twitter.

PESHAWAR TOP ORDER ON SONG

While Kamran went berserk, the other top order players kept the scoring rate up. Bangladeshi opener Tamim Iqbal hit a relatively sedate 29-ball 39 while all-rounder Dwayne Smith hit 30 off 21.

Mohammad Hafeez showed his experience in remaining 30 not out off 22 balls to add meat to the total.

UMAID ASIF LETS LOOSE

Peshawar fast bowler Asif didn’t not give anything away in his opening spell, using the extra nip in the wicket to crush the fragile looking Islamabad top order. He got Luke Ronchi out on the pull shot and had Hussain Talat caught behind while defending.

Islamabad now have some serious thinking to do as their top order looks particularly weak and will have bowlers lining up against them.

IBTISAM SHEIKH WINS BATTLE OF LEGGIES

This wasn’t much of a contest. Islamabad and national team leg-spinner Shadab Khan is one of the most valued wrist spinners in the game but he was not effective on Saturday as his four overs went for 34 runs. But his opposite number – Zalmi’s 19-year-old leggie Ibtisam Sheikh – came into bowl without any pressure with the opposition 46-5. Displaying his full range of leg spinners, googlies and top spinners, Sheikh finished with figures of 3-20. Definitely one to watch out for.

CATCH OF THE DAY

Andre Russell didn’t have much of an impact with the ball or bat but in the outfield he made his presence felt. Fielding at long on with Mohammad Sami bowling to Haris Sohail, Russell ran around to grab the ball that was destined to go for a six and then kept his composure to remain inside the field. There are certain things you don’t forget. For Russell, being brilliant in the outfield is one of them.

MAN OF THE MATCH

While Kamran put Peshawar on the path to victory, it was Asif – man of the match – who ended the contest with his opening burst. Pakistan seem to have unearthed another talented fast bowler who looks set for greater accomplishments.

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Pakistan fast bowler Junaid Khan's triumphant comeback from injury

Waseem Ahmed 24/02/2018
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Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan got his Pakistan Super League campaign off to a perfect start as he captured only the second hat-trick in the history of the T20 tournament while playing for Multan Sultans against Lahore Qalandars in Dubai on Friday.

The left-arm quick captured three wickets on the bounce towards the end of Lahore’s chase to seal a commanding 43-run win for his side.

He joined fellow left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir as the only members of the PSL hat-trick club.

It was a moment to cherish for the 28-year-old. Not only because it came at a platform like the PSL because also because it followed another stint on the sidelines due to injury.

Junaid has an unfortunate history when it comes to fitness. When he started his career in 2011, Junaid was seen as the bowler who could fill the void left by the ban on Amir following the 2010 spot-fixing scandal.

Blessed with late swing and good pace, Junaid propelled Pakistan to an ODI series win in India in 2013 – one of the rare bilateral tours by Pakistan to India – as he picked up seven wickets in three matches.

His four-wicket haul in the Chennai ODI is one of the finest new-ball spells you will see on an Indian wicket.

But after the highs came the lows. He picked up a thigh injury in 2014 during the tour of New Zealand and ultimately missed out on the 2015 World Cup Down Under.

He returned to the side in the middle of 2015. However, he did not represent Pakistan from the middle of 2015 up to the beginning of 2017.

When he did get a chance in ODIs, Junaid made the most of it and was one of the leading men for Pakistan during their victorious Champions Trophy campaign where he picked up eight wickets.

But just as he was teaming up with Mohammad Amir as Pakistan’s ODI new-ball bowler, he was ruled out for four weeks in December last year due to a stress fracture of the foot.

He picked up the injury while playing in the Bangladesh Premier League and an assessment revealed an unhealed stress fracture.

Junaid missed the tour of New Zealand where Pakistan lost the ODIs 5-0 before winning the T20s 2-1.

But the left-armer is up and running in the PSL and he will be hoping for an injury free 2018.

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Kumar Sangakkara delivers again and other key points from PSL win for Multan Sultans

Denzil Pinto 24/02/2018
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Multan Sultans made it two wins out of two in the Pakistan Super League on Friday night. After stunning champions Peshawar Zalmi on Thursday, they repeated the feat again with a 43-run win over Lahore Qalanders at Dubai International Stadium.

Kumar Sangakkara once again rose to the occasion with another half-century, while there was a solid partnership of 65 between Umar Akmal and Fakhar Zaman which at one stage gave Lahore hope of chasing 180.

Here are the takeaways from the third match of the tournament:

Kumar Sangakkara rediscovering his best form

At 40, the ex-Sri Lanka captain is proving that age is no barrier.. His 63-runs was his second consecutive half-century in this competition following his 57 runs against Peshawar Zalmi on Thursday. A man who consistently delivered on the international career during his 15 years is showing there’s plenty left in the tank, even at an age where most cricketers have retired. There’s still a long way to go in the tournament, but his early form bodes well for Multan Sultans that they can go far.

More batting prowess than just Brendon McCullum

When the New Zealand batsman failed to get off the mark, lasting just five balls, Lahore only had 40 on the scoreboard with two wickets down. It was a long road back for Lahore and while it ended in a defeat, Aaqib Javed can take positives from Fakhar Zaman and Umar Akmal’s heroic batting efforts. The pair defied the opposition bowlers for a large spell, putting on a 65-run stand for the third wicket before Multan got the breakthrough. With Chris Lynn ruled out before the tournament, the pressure is on for Lahore batsmen to make an impact.

Shot of the day

There were plenty of boundaries during the match but Fakhar Zaman certainly tops the list. Imran Tahir was the unfortunate man with his googly not deceiving the batsman and instead spinning wide. It allowed Zaman to get more room and slog sweep the ball into the second-tier of the stadium.

Man of the match

Junaid Khan had a fair shout of winning the personal accolade with his hat-trick but that honour went to Imran Tahir. The South African was lethal with the ball and his double wickets were crucial in the game. Finished with figures of 3-27.

Quote of the match

Shoaib Malik on Imran Tahir and Junaid Khan:

“Junaid Khan is a very good bowler and I knew when I asked him to come and bowl, he said I’ll do it. I must mention Imran Tahir’s name as well. He came up to me, in a crucial situation, said give me the ball and he took those wickets for us. Our goal was to fight till the last ball, even when it seemed like they would win.”

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