Rufus Bullough looks at match ten of the PSL and how a trademark Islamabad blitz blew Quetta Gladiators away
Islamabad United have a reputation for being the PSL’s master blasters in the Powerplay, and today they really lived up to their billing taking 81 runs off the first six overs. Of the top 20 Powerplay scores in PSL history, Islamabad united have been responsible for eight of them. The main architect of the destruction early on was Paul Stirling, who brought up his fifty within the Powerplay for the eighth time in T20 cricket – only Chris Gayle (10) and David Warner (9) have done it more often.
After Stirling departed, his fellow overseas star Colin Munro carried on the momentum and carried his bat through the innings, on the way to making 72 not out from 38 deliveries. His innings runs were split perfectly down the middle, scoring 36 runs against both pace and spin bowlers. He did so at a vastly different strike rate however – taking 23 balls to score 36 against pace (SR: 157) and just 16 deliveries against spin (SSR: 225).
Munro was ably supported by Azam Khan who muscled his way to 65 from 35 and shared a 93 run partnership with the Kiwi.
Naseem Shah started disastrously, conceding a boundary of his first delivery, but bounced back brilliantly at the death, nailing his yorkers and change of pace deliveries, conceding just seven runs in the penultimate over.
Sarfraz entrusted the final over to veteran leg-spinner Shahid Afridi, who just out of Covid isolation had looked off the pace all day. He finished with figures of 1/67 which is the most runs ever conceded by a bowler in PSL and the joint seventh most ever conceded in a T20, globally. This took Islamabad to the fourth highest ever PSL score of 229 – interestingly Islamabad are the holders of the top two scores in PSL (247/2 and 238/3). They missed out by three runs of having a clean sweep of the medal positions.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Quetta, who had just an 11% chance on WinViz at the break. They made a bright start at 48/0 after five overs, but two quick wickets, including Quetta’s leading run scorers (Will Smeed) replacement James Vince for a duck, left them behind the eight ball.
Islamabad captain Shadab Khan bowled beautifully through the middle, claiming the wickets of his opposite number, Sarfraz as well as Ahsan Ali, Ben Duckett and Iftikhar and Shahid Afridi. He finished with figures of 5/28, his best ever in PSL. He bowled with plenty of variation, often dragging his leg-spinner wider to the right-handers and then targeting the stumps with his well disguised googly.
A fifty from opener Ashan Ali was the only real highlight in a chase which never really got started for the Gladiators.
He scored his runs in an array of different zones around the ground, but was particularly powerful through backward square leg and mid-wicket. Some lower order consolation runs for Mohammed Nawaz 47 (22) and James Faulkner 30* (15) demonstrated the quality of the pitch but was ultimately too little too late.
Quetta now have a few days off before they play Lahore Qalanders on Monday, whereas Islamabad have just one day off before they play the same opposition.
Rufus Bullough is an analyst for CricViz – follow him at @rufus_cricket