Islamabad United were disciplined, erratic, free-flowing and stuttered before redeeming themselves to cap off a memorable night at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday (March 25) to clinch the Pakistan Super League title for the second time in three years. It was anything but a perfect win for Islamabad as they endured a shocking collapse on the grand stage to almost gift the title to Peshawar Zalmi.
Chasing a modest 149 for the win, Islamabad were cruising at one stage. Their openers Luke Ronchi and Sahibzada Farhan added 96 for the first wicket in just 8.4 overs and from thereon, not even the staunchest of Peshawar supporters would have anticipated a grand comeback. But Ronchi, who began the chase with two sixes off Hasan Ali, got dismissed for a 26-ball 52 to finish the tournament as its leading run-getter. Two deliveries later, Umaid Asif managed to disturb timber as Chadwick Walton was sent back for a duck. Even at the conclusion of the over, Islamabad were in cruise control. They just needed another 49 off 60 deliveries with eight wickets in hand.
But what followed suit was an absolute shocker as wickets started to fall one after the another in a very short interval. While JP Duminy, leading in Misbah-ul-Haq’s absence hit one back at the bowler, the well-set Farhan also succumbed to pressure in the following over bowled by Wahab Riaz. The procession continued much to the shock of the Islamabad dugout as Hasan came back strong to pick up two wickets off the same over.
The 15th over then witnessed a huge moment in the chase when Kamran Akmal dropped Asif Ali with the ball travelling miles up in the air. When he failed to get even a glove on it, the fine leg fielder threw the ball when there was no one backing up and that resulted in Islamabad collecting six runs off that delivery. Perhaps, it was the little bit of luck they needed towards the end as Asif hammered Hasan for three consecutive sixes in the 16th over to kill Peshawar’s hopes.
Peshawar wouldn’t have even made a match out of it in the first place had it not been for Wahab’s cameo towards the end of their innings. Darren Sammy’s decision to bat first backfired big time as Kamran failed to get going despite being in great form. At one point, he was batting on 1 from 8 which was immediately followed by his dismissal to Samit Patel. While Peshawar made an attempt to shrug it off, Samit struck again in his third over when Mohammad Hafeez chipped one back to him. Shadab Khan then got into the attack by trapping Andre Fletcher for 21.
In a surprise move, Peshawar decided to promote Chris Jordan up the order and it was his partnership with Liam Dawson that rescued the side. The duo struck a six each for three successive overs and added 52 for the fourth wicket. Hussain Talat, who broke the stand by getting rid of Jordan, struck again in his next over to remove Saad Nasim. Shadab then finished off his spell with two vital wickets in the same over. The regular wickets put Islamabad in a predicament where they were in danger of being bowled out. but Wahab collected three boundaries and a six to attach respectability to the total. On the night, they needed much more.
Brief scores: Peshawar Zalmi 148/9 in 20 overs (Chris Jordan 36, Liam Dawson 33; Shadab Khan 3-25, Hussain Talat 2-18) lost to Islamabad United 154/7 in 16.5 overs (Luke Ronchi 52, Sahibzada Farhan 44; Chris Jordan 2-22, Wahab Riaz 2-28) by three wickets.