Asif Ali came to the rescue to help defending Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Islamabad United beat Karachi Kings by five wickets in a nail-biting clash at Dubai which went down to the final over.
Asif smashed 70 runs off just 38 deliveries to help Islamabad chase down the target of 169 runs with four balls to spare in the end,
Islamabad’s chase began on a dismal note with Cameron Delport falling for a duck to Karachi skipper Imad Wasim. Luke Ronchi started in typical explosive fashion at the other end but once he and Hussain Talat were dismissed by young Umer Khan in the seventh over, Islamabad were struggling.
However, Asif came out all guns blazing in an innings which contained as many as six sixes to turn the tide in spectacular fashion. The Pakistan batsman received able support from England’s Philip Salt at the other end with the duo stitching together a 93-run stand to set up an excellent platform for Islamabad.
Having reached his half-century off just 30 balls, Asif was ultimately dismissed by Mohammad Amir in the 16th over but by then he had brought down the asking-rate for his side to a manageable level.
.@AasifAli2018 (70*) destroys @manuz05 with some brutal blows there. Islamabad United are 140/3 after 16 overs now— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 27, 2019
Ball-by-ball details 👉 https://t.co/IKsvHtbhUQ #KKvIU #PSL2019 #CricketForAll #KhelDeewanoKa pic.twitter.com/Mer25BfZmm
Salt fell four runs short of a half-century in the next over but Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf were on hand to complete the job for Islamabad.
Earlier, Karachi had been made to bat first after Islamabad skipper Shadab won the toss. Colin Munro’s poor PSL continued with the New Zealand falling cheaply to Rumman Raees.
His opening partner Babar Azam, however, rediscovered his form with the Pakistan stalwart collecting as many as seven boundaries in the powerplay. He combined well with Englishman Liam Livingstone with the pair putting on 78 runs for the second wicket.
It was Livingstone who was the primary aggressor in the partnership with the 25-year-old striking four sixes and five boundaries on his way to 56 before he was dismissed by Shadab.
Colin Ingram failed to repeat his heroics against Quetta with the South African become one of the three wickets to fall to Raees.
Babar tried to hold fort for Karachi at one but wickets continued to tumble in the death overs as Islamabad fought back hard. Only 73 runs came in the final 10 overs of Karachi’s innings while seven wickets were lost.
Karachi Kings: 168-8
Babar Azam: 68 (50)
Liam Livingstone: 56 (31)
Rumman Raees: 3-27
Islamabad United: 169-5
Asif Ali: 70 (38)
Phil Salt: 46 (38)
The Pakistan stalwart’s up and down form was under the scanner and a big display was needed from him with Karachi languishing at the bottom of the table.
The No1 ranked T20I batsman in the world duly delivered by registering his second half-century of the campaign which helped the Kings post 168-8 in their 20 overs.
Here, we take a closer look at Babar’s performance for Karachi against Islamabad.
BALLS FACED: 50
Having been dismissed for a golden duck against Quetta Gladiators, Babar started off in much more authoritative fashion against Islamabad with two successive boundaries in the first over. Setting the tone from the first over itself, the Karachi opener was in superb flow during the powerplay before he raced away to a 36-ball half-century.
He forged a 78-run stand for the second wicket alongside Liam Livingstone and held one end up for his side while wickets tumbled at the other. The right-hander ultimately fell in the penultimate over of the Karachi innings while trying to pull a Faheem Ashraf delivery.
Total control. While he loves to play the ball on the up, Babar never played a shot in anger on Wednesday as he anchored the innings excellently for Karachi. He made sure to profit in the powerplay by striking seven of his 10 boundaries inside the first six overs.
The Karachi opener was particularly on song against his Pakistan team-mate Faheem Ashraf whom he struck for five consecutive boundaries in two separate overs.
THE OYE HOYE MOMENTS!— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 27, 2019
4 - 4 - 4 @babarazam258 is displaying sheer quality and class for @KarachiKingsARY against @IsbUnited at @thePSLt20
Ball-by-ball details 👉 https://t.co/IKsvHtbhUQ #KKvIU #PSL2019 #CricketForAll #KhelDeewanoKa #OyeHoyeCricketMoments pic.twitter.com/OWt3vayeNF
While he did start his innings in explosive fashion, Babar faded away in the period between overs seven and 13 during where he failed to collect a single boundary. At that stage, Karachi were going great guns with Livingstone looking lethal at one end while there were nine wickets in hand.
The Pakistan batsman could have been more attacking in that phase. Karachi went on to struggle during the death overs.
VERDICT – 8/10
It was an innings that was very much needed for Babar for both his and Karachi’s confidence. After starting the 2019 PSL campaign with a superb 77 against Multan Sultans, the opening batsman had gone off the boil in the subsequent four matches and his form had played its part in Karachi’s struggles.
Although he was not at his best in the second-half of his innings, the 68 runs scored and the stay at the crease will do Babar a world of good and augurs well for the Kings going forward in the tournament.
Fresh from a morale boosting win over defending Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Islamabad United, Multan Sultans will look to take that momentum in their clash against Peshawar Zalmi on Thursday.
The comprehensive six-wicket win over Islamabad has managed to lift Multan from bottom place but there is still some way to go.
An excellent bowling display was at the heart of Multan’s win over Islamabad with Mohammad Ilyas, Nauman Ali, Mohammad Irfan and Dan Christian chipping in with important wickets.
It was Christian however who was the star of the show with the Australian all-rounder backing up his three-wicket haul with the ball with a fine unbeaten cameo with the bat to see his side through.
Christian coming into form bodes for the Sultans, especially in the absence of their star all-rounder Andre Russell who has joined up with the Windies squad for international duty. Their veteran all-rounder Shahid Afridi too looks like getting back to his best after a small injury layoff and the fact that he completed his quota of four overs against Islamabad will delight skipper Shoaib Malik.
For Peshawar, it will be back-to-back games against Multan Sultans with the reverse fixture at Sharjah going their way. Darren Sammy and his men have recorded three victories from their five games so far and are only behind Quetta Gladiators in the points table.
WATCH: @RealHa55an picked up four wickets for @PeshawarZalmi and helped them gain momentum vs @MultanSultans— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 24, 2019
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It has been Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali who has been leading the charge for Zalmi in the 2019 edition. The 24-year-old is leading the wicket-taking charts by some distance with 15 scalps in his five appearances which have come at a sensational average of just over seven and an economy-rate of less than six.
The pacer was excellent in the previous win over Multan with figures of 4-17 and will be looking to do the same once again.
While Hasan Ali has been the star with the ball for Peshawar, it is Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq who has set the tone with the bat. A late addition to the Zalmi squad, the left-hander has already created a big impression with two half-centuries in his four appearances.
Peshawar Zalmi have lost the services of England duo Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan who have departed for the T20s series in the West Indies. In their stead, Peshawar have added Windies batsman Lendl Simmons and England pacer Tymal Mills as replacement.
Multan, meanwhile, have not called up any replacements for Russell so far.
Multan Sultans: Umar Siddiq (wk), James Vince, Johnson Charles, Shoaib Malik (c), Laurie Evans, Dan Christian, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Ilyas, Junaid Khan, Nauman Ali, Mohammad Irfan
Peshawar Zalmi: Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Lendl Simmons, Liam Dawson, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy (c), Umar Ali, Hasan Ali, Umaid Asid, Wahab Riaz, Sameen Gul
Match starts at 15:30 UAE time