PSL 2019: Usman Shinwari and Liam Livingstone knock Multan out of tournament

Waseem Ahmed 4/03/2019
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Usman Shinwari. Image: PSL/Twitter

It was a match Multan Sultans simply had to win to remain alive in PSL 2019. But their hopes were dashed by Karachi Kings pacer Usman Shinwari – who picked up 4-15 in his four overs – and Liam Livingstone – who hit a critical 53 – in an ultimately tense five-wicket win for the Kings in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

On a wicket where the ball was stopping, Shinwari hit the pitch hard and proved almost impossible to score against. Shinwari kicked things off by castling opener Umar Siddiq and one-down Johnson Charles.

Any hopes of a revival from the reliable James Vince and captain Shoaib Malik were extinguished by teenage Umer Khan who continued his dream run in the fourth edition of PSL.

Umer first had Vince bowled trying an almighty sweep before having Malik caught at long on in the 14th over as Multan crawled to 75-4.

Thereafter, there were two moments of controversy. First, Dan Christian was caught off Umer by Aaron Summers at short cover even though replays showed him dragging the ball on the ground while taking the catch.

Then in the 18th over, Shinwari had Hammad Azam lbw off a low full toss that smashed into the exposed part of his pad and onto his knee. The out decision was reviewed and replays shows a faint spike on Ultra-Edge as the ball went past the bat. But the decision was upheld.

Multan could only manage 118-7 but even that target proved rather tricky for Karachi.

Young quick Mohammad Ilyas got the scalps of Colin Munro and Babar Azam while veteran seamer Mohammad Abbas picked up two wickets in the 14th over as Karachi suddenly needed 29 from 24 balls.

But Livingstone took the game deep. In the last over, Karachi required seven and Livingstone finished the game with a big six over mid wicket off leg-spinner Irfan Khan with four balls remaining.

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PSL 2019: Islamabad United's playoff hopes in the balance against Quetta Gladiators

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Quetta batsman Ahmed Shehzad [Image credit: @thePSLt20/Twitter]

Quetta Gladiators are threatening to run away with top spot during the league stage of PSL 2019. Faced with a potentially tricky clash against Peshawar Zalmi on Monday, the Gladiators cruised to a win , chasing down a target of 166 with more than two overs to spare for a win that sealed Quetta’s playoffs spot.

Given that result, against a Peshawar side that were tied with them on points heading into the game, Quetta will be confident for Tuesday’s matchup with Islamabad United who are third in the table – four points behind; least because they pulled off a similarly comfortable victory when the two sides met earlier in the season, restricting Islamabad to 157/8 and then reaching their target with 10 balls remaining.

Quetta continue to dominate with bat and ball, with Shane Watson’s 55-ball 91 the backbone of Monday’s win and Mohammed Nawaz and Fawad Ahmed bowling economical, wicket-taking spells again.

With so many key players in good form, the Gladiators’ biggest dilemma is whether to rest players now that they know qualification is secure or keep playing them to ensure no momentum is lost. It’s a good problem to have.

For Islamabad, who have won four and lost four this season, suffering a defeat in their most recent game – a last-ball thriller against Peshawar – the playoff equation is starting to get dicey. Though they were top of the table just six days ago, they could still be overtaken by both Karachi and Lahore and miss out on the playoffs entirely, which would make for an ignominious exit for last year’s champions. Tuesday’s game is close to a must-win.

Getting a good start from Luke Ronchi would help, after two low scores in Islamabad’s last two matches. The Kiwi wicket-keeper has been the team’s best batsman this season, but if that run of two below-par games turns into an actual slump, Islamabad’s playoff hopes, and title defence, may be doomed.

LIKELY TEAMS

Islamabad United: Luke Ronchi (wk), Cameron Delport, Philip Salt, Chadwick Walton, Asif Ali, Nasir Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Zafar Gohar, Mohammad Sami (c), Rumnan Rees

Quetta Gladiators: Shane WatsonAhmed Shehzad, Ahsan Ali, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Dwayne Bravo, Mohammad Nawaz, Fawad Ahmed, Mohammad Hasnain, Sohail Tanvir, Harry Gurney

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PSL 2019: Shane Watson's masterful 91 sends Quetta Gladiators top against Peshawar Zalmi

Waseem Ahmed 4/03/2019
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Shane Watson. Image: PSL/Twitter

Australian opener Shane Watson put in yet another match-winning effort as Quetta Gladiators overpowered Peshawar Zalmi to go to the top of PSL 2019 table in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Set a stiff target of 166, Watson took it upon himself to keep a strong Peshawar pace attack at bay as he scored an unbeaten 91 off just 55 balls with six fours and an equal number of maximums to seal an eight-wicket win with more than two overs to spare. Quetta now top the PSL table with six wins from eight games and have qualified for the playoffs.

Ahmed Shehzad did his part by making 50 off 45 balls but it was Watson who paced the chase expertly. The Australian veteran opener knew keeping wickets in hand will be crucial in the closing stages and even when the equation went up to 50 from 36 balls, Watson didn’t panic.

While fellow partner Shehzad was going at just about run a ball, Watson took charge. He picked the perfect moment to transfer pressure on to Peshawar, sending pacer Wahab Riaz down the ground for a six in the 15th over to bring the required rate down to manageable level.

The first ball of the 16th over bowled by Umaid Asif went for five wides and the result became a formality thereafter.

The defining shot of the match came in the 18th over with Quetta needing 14 from 18 balls. Watson jammed out a yorker bowled from round the stumps by Wahab and the ball somehow sailed over point for a six. That was game, set and match.

Earlier, Peshawar wicketkeeper batsman Karman Akmal made only his second meaningful contribution of the campaign as he hit 72 from 50 balls with seven fours and four sixes. It was down to Peshawar in-form hitter Kieron Pollard to provide the impetus with the bat once again as he hit an unbeaten 44 from 21 balls.

Quetta left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz was the best bowler on either side as he went for 24 runs in his four overs and picked up the wicket of Andre Fletcher.

BRIEF SCORES

Peshawar Zalmi: 165-4

Kamran Akmal: 72

Mohammad Nawaz: 1-24

Quetta Gladiators: 166-2 in 17.4 overs

Shane Watson: 91*

Ahmed Shehzad: 50

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