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Pakistan Super League couldn't have gotten off to a better start than it did as Islamabad United edged past Lahore Qalandars in a closely fought encounter on Thursday. Historically speaking, Lahore Qalandars have been the least successful side in PSL and Islamabad United the most impressive one. Although things looked good for Qalandars for the most part of the innings, Islamabad United did well to come back from behind and topple Qalandars. The United will take on Multan Sultans on 16th February at Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Multan Sultans are coming off a loss against Karachi Kings and will be looking to get moving in the tournament. The two teams are matched almost evenly on paper and it should be a cracker of a contest on Saturday.
These are still early days in the tournament and the United have played only one game, but they'll be ecstatic to register a win which appeared lost for most of its part. Islamabad United appeared down and out in the first part of both the innings but bounced back strongly in the second half.
After the Qalandars got off to a glorious start, riding on Fakhar Zaman's fluent knock, Islamabad's bowling made a fantastic comeback to restrict the Qalandars to a manageable total of just 171 which at one stage was projected to exceed the magical milestone of 200.
The United bowled brilliantly during the death overs as they gave away just 34 runs off the last 27 deliveries. Faheem Ashraf and Waqas Maqsood happened to deliver the match-winning spells and returned with the figures of 4-0-24-2 and 4-0-25-1 respectively.
Luke Ronchi, Rizwan Hussain, C Delport, Philip Salt, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, SR Patel, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Sami, W Maqsood.
The Sultans started off just from where they finished in the last season of Pakistan Super League. However, that is not they were looking for. The Sultans narrowly missed the target as they failed to get off to a winning start in the tournament.
Bowling first on a decent Dubai surface, all Sultan bowlers were hammered by the pair of Liam Livingstone and Babar Azam. Barring Chris Green, who was the pick of the bowlers and picked up three wickets for 32 in his four and broke the important stand between Azam and Livingstone, none of their bowlers was effective. Although they picked up a few wickets towards the end of the innings, it proved to be too little too late for the Sultans.
Chasing a total in excess of 180 is never easy in a T20 game and it wasn't a case in this recently concluded game either. The Sultans needed a good start, but Moores and Shan Masood failed to get them off to a quick start as they both perished without any significant contributions. Laurie Evans and Shoaib Malik stitched together a wonderful partnership of 72, but Evans' run-out left Sultans struggling. Although there were some late fireworks from their lower-order batsmen, they were too little too less as Sultans ended up eight runs short of the target.
Shan Masood, J Charles, Laurie Evans, Shoaib Malik, Andre Russell, SMSK Afridi, Hammad Azam, Christopher Green, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Ali Shafiq.
Pakistan Super League 2019 began on an emphatic note as all of the first two-three matches ended up after a see-saw battle. Multan Sultans just missed the target whereas Islamabad United were able to achieve it despite the early stutter in their innings. With a win in the first match and a strong middle-order, Islamabad United go in as favorites to win the upcoming encounter in PSL.