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Recent Match Report – United vs Qalandars 20th Match 2020/21-2021

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Qalandars surrendered from advantageous positions in both innings after dominating the first ten overs each time

Islamabad United 152 for 7 (Asif 75, Iftikhar 49, Faulkner 3-19) beat Lahore Qalandars 124 (Zaman 44, Musa 3-18, Shadab 2-14) by 28 runs

At first, the Islamabad United’s historic decision to bat first at the toss – for the first time in PSL history – seemed like a bad idea. Their top five were each out for single-digit scores against the Lahore Qalandars and the team was reeling at 20 for 5.
However, a 123-run partnership for the sixth wicket changed the game around. Asif Ali counter-attacked with six fours and five sixes in his 75, and Iftikhar Ahmed played Asif’s sidekick with 49. Together they neutralised Rashid Khan and posted a total big enough to give their bowlers something to defend.
That was successfully pulled off as Muhammad Musa, Shadab Khan and Fawad Ahmed produced a period of play where the Qalandars lost seven wickets for 14 runs. Musa collected three wickets, and both Shadab and Fawad took two each to seal a win that was eventually very comfortable.
The win took United to the top of the PSL points table, tied on points with their opponents of the night, and helped them achieve victory in a manner they had never done previously. And all that without Hasan Ali’s services.

Faulkner, other pacers breathe fire
It was meant to be a long, hot afternoon in the sun for the Qalandars unit after United chose to bat following the toss – more so as Colin Munro and Usman Khawaja came in on the back of a ten-over partnership of 137 runs against Quetta Gladiators. But that wasn’t to be, as Shaheen Afridi had Khawaja caught behind for a duck on the third ball of the first over after getting a full ball to move away and forcing the opener to flick down the wrong line. Next ball, Rohail Nazir was pinned lbw via a yorker, only to survive as Afridi had overstepped.

However, Nazir could not make the most of his reprieve. He was trapped lbw by a James Faulkner ball that moved into him in the second over. Two overs later, Faulkner earned another wicket through an lbw, when Munro did not pick a cutter and looked to defend down the wrong line, only for the ball to strike his pad in front of the stumps.

With Faulkner’s military medium still getting sideways movement, he was given a third over where Hussain Talat’s flick went straight to deep midwicket. Haris Rauf, Shaheen’s replacement at first change in the seventh over, then struck first ball when a quick delivery that was angling in had Shadab Khan edging behind to Ben Dunk. After 6.1 overs, Faulkner had three, Afridi and Rauf had one each, and the Qalandars were 20 for 5. In the last match, the Qalandars had posted their highest ever powerplay score; in this game, they posted their lowest ever.

The counterattack
The early blows aside, it remained a batting-friendly track, and that was proved by the next period of play. For United, Ifthikar and Asif had their backs against the wall after Shadab’s wicket, but they clawed their way back with every passing over.

Asif struck two fours off Faulkner to bring the Australian’s spell to a close and then used Rauf’s pace to hit back-to-back boundaries. Ahmed Daniyal then bore the brunt of Asif’s onslaught as he cleared long-on for six, after which he deposited a flighted Rashid Khan ball for another maximum. More boundaries off Daniyal took Asif to 49, and a single next ball gave him a 28-ball fifty in the 13th over.

All this while, Iftikhar was scoring at a strike-rate of less than a hundred but he changed gears in the 15th over. After striking Daniyal for a four, he brought up United’s hundred before depositing a full-toss and a slower ball off Rauf for consecutive fours. Together, Rashid and Daniyal conceded 82 runs in eight overs for no wickets, and with two overs to go, United had reached 135 for 5.

The 19th from Shaheen began with the bowler being hit for a six by Asif, but a few balls later he was hit-wicket after going too deep in his crease while expecting a yorker, thus ending their 76-ball stand of 123. But his 43-ball 75, together with Iftikhar’s 49, ensured United went into the break with the momentum as they finished on 152 for 7.

Qalandars crumble after Akhtar departs
Sohail Akhtar took the early charge in the powerplay during the Qalandars’ chase of 153 as he helped take 11 runs off Mohammad Wasim’s first over. He then walked across his crease multiple times to explore the fine-leg region with boundaries off Ali Khan and Wasim. However, Shadab introduced Fawad for the final over of the powerplay, and he struck off the last ball of the over when Akhtar failed to pick a googly. His 19-ball 34 had helped the Qalandars raze down 55 runs already, but his dismissal started a massive collapse that the Qalandars simply could not arrest.

A run out of the No. 3 Zeeshan Ashraf in the seventh over didn’t help when they just needed to settle into another partnership after Akhtar’s wicket. But a brilliant piece of fielding near cover from Shadab sent Ashraf back.

Musa, usually expensive but with the habit of taking crucial wickets, then took two – of Mohammad Hafeez pulling to deep midwicket and Dunk caught behind – to tilt the balance United’s way. Musa then added a third as Fakhar Zaman fell for a laboured 37-ball 44, top-edging one to third man.

Then came the spin onslaught. Tim David was out trying to clear long-on off Shadab, while Rashid failed to pick Shadab’s googly. From the other end, Fawad’s quick thinking had Shaheen run-out before he bowled Faulkner through his defenses. At 100 for 9, the Qalandars had truly lost the plot, and despite an entertaining tenth-wicket stand, they fell 28 runs short. Apart from the openers and the No. 11 Rauf, no other Qalandars batter reached double digits.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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