PSL 2019: Asif Ali's power hitting in focus during Islamabad United v Multan Sultans

Waseem Ahmed 16:59 15/02/2019
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Islamabad United batsman Asif Ali. Image: Islamabad United/Twitter.

Defending champions Islamabad United got off to a great start in the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League, rallying twice against Lahore Qalandars to prevail by five wickets on Thursday.

Lahore got off to a blazing start, with Fakhar Zaman powering the team to 97 in the 11th over. But Islamabad pulled things back to restrict the Qalandars to 171-8.

Then while chasing, Islamabad lost three wickets to left-arm seamer Rahat Ali in the sixth over before a counter-attacking 36 off 19 balls from Asif Ali and 23 off 11 balls from Faheem Ashraf sealed victory.

It was an early glimpse of why Islamabad have been the most consistent team in PSL across seasons.

The opening match also showed fans why the Pakistan establishment has invested so much time in Ali in international cricket. The hard-hitting batsman showed he can prove to be the deciding factor in white-ball cricket in the lower order and if he continues his form this PSL, a more permanent spot in the senior team during the World Cup in England won’t be too far off.

Islamabad get one day’s rest before they take on Multan Sultans – who will be playing their second match in as many days – in Dubai on Saturday.

Multan need a monumental improvement in their bowling plans after they were blasted around the park by Karachi Kings openers on Friday before finding the radar in the final five overs.

However, Multan’s left-arm quicks Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan are experienced enough to ensure Friday was just an off day.

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Islamabad are unlikely to change a winning combination. Almost all bowlers – apart from captain Mohammad Sami – did well while all-rounder Hussain Talat will want to forget the first game where be bled 20 runs in one over. Islamabad have more than enough bowling options.

Multan, meanwhile, need a lot more control and should bring in Mohammad Abbas in place of the hugely expensive Mohammad Illyas. They also left an over each from Andre Russell and Shahid Afridi unused, which wasn’t smart captaincy from Shoaib Malik.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Islamabad United: Luke Ronchi (wk), Rizwan Hussain, Cameron Delport, Phil Salt, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Samit Patel, Mohammad Sami (c), Waqas Maqsood

Multan Sultans: Shoaib Malik (c), Shahid Afridi, Shan Masood, Laurie Evans, Andre Russell, CJ Green, Hammad Azam, TJ Moores (wk), Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Abbas

Match starts 15:30 UAE time

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