Joe Denly hits half-century as Karachi Kings get back to winning ways in PSL

Denzil Pinto 10/03/2018
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Letting the bat do the talking: Joe Denly

Joe Denly admitted he was taken by surprise that Multan Sultans opted not to bat first after his half-century helped Karachi Kings boost their play-off hopes with a convincing 63-run victory in the Pakistan Super League on Saturday.

Multan skipper Shoaib Malik decided to field first after winning the toss at Dubai International Stadium and his decision quickly backfired as Karachi piled on their highest score in this year’s competition – 188 for 3 .

Denly propelled the innings with a 78-run knock off 55 deliveries, while Babar Azam’s 58 and a late Colin Ingram onslaught (29 from eight) added to the total.

The result meant Karachi snapped their two-match losing streak. They are now placed second on nine points with three group games to play.

Denly believes Malik made the wrong decision and his team took full advantage.

“Yes I was surprised,” he said. “As a batter, I always say if it’s a good wicket, try and get the runs on the board and put them under pressure. I’m always encouraging my captain to bat first as there was some grass and a little bit surprised they didn’t bat first.”

Denly was dropped by Ahmed Shehzad on zero and he made the tournament debutants pay big time.

After Lendl Simmons departed for 4, Denly and Azam came together and took Multan Sultan bowlers apart with a 118-run stand for the second wicket – the highest stand in PSL this year.

Denly led the assault by going on the attack with Junaid Khan, Imran Tahir and Hardus  Viljoen all on the receiving end of his big hitting. By the time his 78-run knock, that included 10 boundaries and two sixes, was stopped by Hardus Viljoen, Karachi were 139-2. They ended on 188-3.

That target proved to be too much for Multan Sultans. Kumar Sangakkara and Shehzad gave them a good start with a 41-run opening stand but as soon as that was broken by Mohammad Irfan, Karachi took charge with the ball.

Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan all took one scalp while Shahid Afridi (3-18) sealed the match.

Playing in his second match after returning from injury, the Pakistan star rattled the Multan line-up, taking the wickets of big-hitters Keiron Pollard (3), Shoaib Malik (6) and Saif Badar (13).

Sohail Tanvir frustrated Karachi with an unbeaten 34 but it was too little too late for the team who have now lost their last three matches.

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Lahore Qalandars batsman Umar Akmal avoiding social media after horror run in PSL 2018

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Umar Akmal during a 'meet and greet' event at the Wafi Mall in Dubai.

Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal is avoiding social media and staying close to friends and family as he looks to come out of one of the lowest points of his cricketing career.

The 27-year-old batsman was seen as the most promising talent in world cricket when he started his international career in 2009. However, countless opportunities and frustrating performances later, Umar finds himself perpetually close to being cast adrift.

The lack of confidence in his game has come to the fore in the ongoing Pakistan Super League, with the Lahore Qalandars batsman dropped from the side after just 57 runs from five matches. He does not even feature on the 15-member team sheet now.

There have been unverified reports about frosty relations between the Lahore team management and Umar. Whether they are true or not, the fact is Umar faces an uphill task to regain the trust of team management and even the public with the beleaguered batsman one of the most trolled personalities in the world.

During a meet and greet session at the Wafi Mall in Dubai, Umar steered clear of specific questions about his woeful form and ouster from the team. However, he did reveal how he is keeping himself upbeat.

“My best friends, my brothers keep me motivated. My wife has been especially supportive. She boosts my morale, so do my parents. Listening to music, having food with close friends keeps negativity out of my mind,” Umar told Sport360 on Saturday.

“Obviously, I am staying away from social media. I have a team that handles my social media accounts. They just inform me about the positive aspects and don’t tell me anything about negative (remarks).”

Umar, however, is not losing hope and promises to rework certain aspects of his game once the PSL finishes. “I will work on my game after the PSL. Hopefully there will be improvement.”

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Samit Patel impresses with the ball and other key points from Islamabad United's win over Peshawar Zalmi

Denzil Pinto 10/03/2018
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Islamabad United defeated Peshawar Zalmi by 26 runs to go top of the PSL standings on Friday night.

JP Duminy starred with the bat, with an unbeaten 73 to help the team post their highest PSL total of 182-5, while Samit Patel claimed four wickets for the 2016 winners.

Here are the key points from the match:

JP Duminy makes Peshawar Zalmi pay

The South African’s highest score in this year’s competition was his unbeaten 43 against Karachi Kings, but that score was smashed by some distance.

The left-hander was lucky to still be at the crease when dropped by Liam Dawson on 18 and the veteran batsman made the most of his opportunity.

Rotating the strike even when wickets were falling, he was not afraid to attack with Dawson, Ibtisam Sheikh and Wahab Riaz on the receiving end as Islamabad put up their highest PSL score ever.

Samit Patel becoming the perfect replacement

The 33-year-old all-rounder is proving to be a successful replacement for Islamabad United.

Replacing Sri Lanka all-rounder Asela Gunaratne, the former England international was effective with the ball. Having trapped Kamran Akmal LBW, Patel’s spin deceived Peshawar batsmen with Andre Fletcher and Dwayne Smith both dismissed in consecutive balls as Islamabad United took charge.

He eventually finished with figures of 4-34 and did his fielding part by catching Umaid Asif in the final over.

Islamabad United making a late charge

After two straight losses, Islamabad United are beginning to find the form that won them the title back in 2016.

This is their fifth win and a result that puts them to the top of the standings with two groups games to go.

Head coach Dean Jones has reiterated it’s not how you start the tournament, it’s how you finish it and Islamabad are showing signs that they’re finding their form at just the right time.

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