Recent Match Report – United vs Zalmi Eliminator 2 2020/21-2021
United knocked out in the second eliminator after producing PSL’s best-ever league stage performance
Peshawar Zalmi 177 for 2 (Zazai 66, Wells 55, Malik 32*) beat Islamabad United 174 for 9 (Hasan 45, Riaz 2-35) by eight wickets
The league stage suggested that Islamabad United were red-hot favourites for their third PSL title, but a comprehensive Peshawar Zalmi performance guaranteed that they wouldn’t even make it to the final.
In reply, United kept Zazai on a leash for the most part, bowling away from his hitting arc. But the failure to get more wickets up top meant there was always the fear that Zalmi had enough firepower at the end to catch up with a climbing run rate. Wells and Zazai saw off the pressure without throwing their wickets away, the Australian doing particularly well in his first game to adjust to conditions and pace his innings accordingly. It was in Shadab’s third over that they cut loose, smashing the United captain for three sixes in four balls on a forgettable day for Shadab; he would go on to concede 55 in his four. He has never been as expensive in PSL history, and his team was on the ropes.
Zazai and Wells seemed to mirror each other for most of the stand, which was finally broken after 126 hard-fought runs when Zazai chopped on to Mohammad Wasim. The asking rate was almost run-a-ball by then, and a Shoaib Malik blitz – 32 off 10 balls – made light work of the last rites.
The Hasan Ali cameo
Is it really a cameo if a player ends up being their side’s top-scorer? United looked like they had blown their chances at a spot in the final spectacularly after a listless display from the top and middle-order saw them reduced to 110 for 8. Crucially, though, Hasan was still out there, and he wasn’t in the mood to simply bat out 20 overs. Two fours and two sixes off Asif’s 17th over just whet his appetite as the 26-year old let loose in a blur of monstrous shot-making. Zalmi were guilty of being one-paced to him, and Ali loved the ball coming onto the bat; Riaz was tonked for 19 in the penultimate over as the two-time champions plundered 64 off the final four.
Wasim offered fantastic support at the other end, thumping a pair of sixes on his own as the frontal assault continued from both sides. Hasan, meanwhile, was heroically run out trying to get back on strike for the final delivery, having raced to a sizzling 45 off 16. No player deserved a half-century more, but the knock had given his side more than a fair chance.
Mohammad Irfan’s eventful day
Plenty went on with Irfan today, but one thing it really shouldn’t detract everyone from is the veteran’s unerring consistency of performance. For the third consecutive game, Irfan conceded exactly 21 runs in his four overs, astonishing figures as bowlers around him have found themselves clubbed to all parts. The pace and length variations continue to remain unpredictable, as batters as diverse as power hitters and anchors struggle to settle against the giant Zalmi bowler.
He also doubled up with the priceless wicket of Munro at a time when the New Zealander had helped United off to a flying start and looked exceptionally threatening. He was unfortunate not to have had him a few balls earlier, coaxing an outside edge that Kamran Akmal spilled. Off the final ball of the over, though, Munro played at one down leg side, and this time, Irfan had the wicket he deserved.
Where they stand
United are eliminated despite boasting the best ever group stage performance in the PSL. Zalmi go through to face Multan Sultans in Thursday’s final.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000