League leaders Quetta Gladiators have maintained a perfect start to their campaign and come into the match on the back of a thrilling last-ball win over Lahore Qalandars on Saturday.
With four wins out of four, Sarfraz Ahmed and his men are looking like the team to beat already in the competition. The performance of the team’s bowling unit has played a large part in Quetta’s remarkable start with the likes of Mohammad Nawaz, Sohail Tanvir and Fawad Ahmed putting in some tidy work.
However, it’s been youngster Ghulam Mudassar who has caught the eye among the veteran names with the pacer’s three-wicket haul on Saturday playing a pivotal role in Quetta’s win.
While the bowling has been on song, Quetta’s batting has looked solid as well. The batting card bears a formidable look with the presence of Shane Watson, Rilee Rossouw and Umar Akmal while Sarfraz has chipped in with his fair share.
SARFRAZ AHMED HAS DONE A JAVED MIANDAD AT SHARJAH @SarfarazA_54 slogs @David_Wiese towards deep mid-wicket and Quetta Gladiators have won!— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 23, 2019
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The Quetta Gladiators skipper was in fine form in the victory over Lahore with a brilliant half-century and a last-ball six off David Wiese.
While Quetta have been flying, Karachi have been on a freefall since the second day of the competition. After registering a narrow win over Multan Sultans in their opener, the Kings have tasted three defeats on the bounce with the latest of them coming in comprehensive fashion against Islamabad United on Saturday.
Problems have been plenty for Imad Wasim and his men, especially in the batting department. Their star batsman Babar Azam has been subdued of late after starting the tournament with a fine 77. The Pakistan stalwart was run-out for 27 in the loss to Islamabad and he will need to step up if Karachi are to turn their campaign around.
Kiwi dasher Colin Munro’s maiden Karachi outing ended on a golden duck against Islamabad and he is another batsman that Karachi will look to for inspiration going forward. Like Babar, Liam Livingstone too has gone off the boil since his exploits against Multan and it is no wonder that Karachi have been struggling with the bat.
One positive from Karachi’s crushing defeat on Saturday was the form of Ben Dunk with the Australia wicket-keeper battling hard for his side with an unbeaten 49.
The Kings have a decent bowling unit with the likes of Mohammad Amir, Imad, Usman Shinwari and Umer Khan in tow but it is with the bat that they will need to fire if they are to stop Quetta’s juggernaut.
While there are no major injury concerns for either side, the fact that both teams are playing their second match in as many days could see a few players being rested as precaution.
Quetta Gladiators: Shane Watson, Ahsan Ali, Rilee Rossouw, Umar Akmal, Dwayne Smith, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk and c), Mohammad Nawaz, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Ghulam Mudassar, Fawad Ahmed
Karachi Kings: Babar Azam, Colin Munro, Awais Zia, Liam Livingstone, Colin Ingram, Ben Dunk (wk), Imad Wasim (c), Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Umer Khan, Usman Shinwari
All-rounder Faheem Ashraf and opening batsman Luke Ronchi were the chief architects as defending champions Islamabad notched up a comfortable win with 23 balls to spare.
Set a target of 144 to win, Islamabad United’s chase started poorly with Cameron Delport run-out for a duck by a Colin Munro direct hit.
However, Luke Ronchi and Sahibzada Farhan were in a punishing mood as Islamabad racked up 61 runs in the powerplay. Ronchi was the primary aggressor of the two with the Kiwi veteran smashing three boundaries and two sixes off the first 10 deliveries he faced.
Ronchi brought up a 22-ball half-century before Farhan and Hussain Talat were dismissed off consecutive deliveries by Imad Wasim.
However, the joy for Karachi was short-lived with Samit Patel coming out firing on all cylinders. The Englishman slammed an unbeaten 45 off just 30 deliveries before finishing the chase with a boundary while Ronchi remained unbeaten on 67 (35).
Earlier, Islamabad opted to rest Mohammad Sami following his hat-trick on Friday but the skipper’s absence was barely felt as Karachi’s batsmen were made to struggle.
SIX! Short from Usman Shinwari and Samit Patel (28) deposits it into the stands. Islamabad United are 116/3 after 13 overs— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 23, 2019
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Colin Munro’s PSL campaign got off to the worst possible start with the Kiwi opener falling for a golden duck to Rumman Raees. Islamabad youngster Muhammad Musa then further vindicated Shadab Khan’s decision to bowl first at Sharjah by having Awais Zia caught at short fine-leg before Colin Ingram miscued a pull off Faheem Ashraf to compound Karachi’s woes.
The Kings demoted Liam Livingstone down the order but that move failed to pay off with the Englishman guiding a Faheem delivery onto his stumps after a scratchy 22 (31). Karachi skipper Imad Wasim fell to Faheem in the same fashion off the very next delivery before Aamer Yamin safely negotiated the hat-trick ball.
Islamabad were well on top at that stage before some fine lower-order hitting from Ben Dunk and Aamer Yamin helped Karachi mount a fightback in the death overs.
Both the batsmen struck two sixes each as they shared an unbeaten 69-run stand for the seventh wicket. Dunk collected 49 runs off 32 deliveries while Yamin struck 35 from 19 as Karachi managed to fight their way to a challenging 143-6.
Karachi Kings: 143-6
Ben Dunk: 49 not out (32)
Faheem Ashraf: 3-26
Islamabad United: 147-3
Luke Ronchi: 67 not out (35)
Samit Patel: 45 not out (30)
With both teams containing several Pakistan national team stalwarts such as Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim, there were plenty of intriguing battles on show.
It was Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf who impressed in the first-half of the match with figures of 3-26 as Islamabad restricted Karachi to 143-6.
Here, we take a closer look at Faheem’s bowling display for defending champions Islamabad United.
RUNS CONCEDED: 26
Introduced into the attack in the fifth over of the powerplay, Faheem wasted no time in making an impact by getting the better of the dangerous Colin Ingram with only his third delivery.
The Pakistan all-rounder wreaked further havoc with his next over where he dismissed Liam Livingstone and Karachi skipper Imad Wasim off consecutive deliveries. The right-armed medium pacer could have had a fourth scalp had Sahibzada Farhan not put down a chance off Aamer Yamin in the deep before he closed out the Karachi innings with a tight final over.
OUT! Short from @iFaheemAshraf and @CAIngram41 fails to time it well. Islamabad United have another wicket. Kings are 27/3 after 5 overs— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 23, 2019
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details 👉 https://t.co/ygrmnBL1hZ #IUvKK #PSL2019 #KhelDeewanoKa #CricketForAll pic.twitter.com/U2ZkPanlvn
Kept it simple and stuck to the basics. He might not be blessed with tearaway pace to trouble the batsmen but Faheem’s approach of bowling wicket-to-wicket paid off handsomely in the dismissals of Livingstone and Imad.
Both the batsmen lost their stumps while trying to guide the ball down to third-man with Faheem getting his radar absolutely spot on.
The medium-pacer also bowled an excellent final over with two set batsmen in Ben Dunk and Yamin in front of him. Faheem only conceded four runs from the first five deliveries before Dunk squeaked in a boundary off the final ball.
OUT! @iFaheemAshraf bowls @liaml4893 (22) and @simadwasim (0) on consecutive deliveries and Karachi Kings are 77/6 in the 15th over— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 23, 2019
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details 👉 https://t.co/ygrmnBL1hZ #IUvKK #PSL2019 #KhelDeewanoKa #CricketForAll pic.twitter.com/q0V68onM44
Not much to fault in Faheem’s efforts on the night with the all-rounder’s performance being head and shoulders above the other Islamabad bowlers. He did, however, bowl a little too short at times and was duly punished by the batsmen on those rare occasions.
VERDICT – 8/10
It is no coincidence that Islamabad fare better when Faheem performs with the ball. In each of the two previous victories by the defending champions in the 2019 PSL, the all-rounder picked up a two-wicket haul.
On Saturday, his three-wicket haul was central to Islamabad tying down Karachi’s formidable batting unit to a respectable total. On a night when Pakistan stars such as Babar, Shadab and Imad were on display, it was Faheem who stole the show with a disciplined bowling performance.