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Peshawar Zalmi came out of the middle-order rut with a convincing win over Karachi Kings on Thursday. With this win, they've climbed to the second spot in the points table, behind Quetta Gladiators, and will be looking to solidify their position in the top-half when they meet Islamabad United at the same venue in less than a day's time. The upcoming match will be Islamabad's first appearance at Sharjah as they are playing after a gap of five days. They last played on 17th February, against Quetta Gladiators, wherein the Gladiators thrashed them with seven wickets in hand and ten balls to spare.
Just like Peshawar, the United, too are one of the most consistent sides of the competition, but they haven't really played like one in this edition of the competition. They've won just one game in three matches and another loss here will certainly put them in a spot of bother as far as points table is concerned.
Just a little under a week ago, Islamabad United were tormented by Watson and Akmal who both played brilliant knocks each to hand United a seven wickets defeat. Batting first on a surface which was doing something prior to this match, Islamabad United got a reasonably good total on the board, considering the scores at the same venue in the preceding matches. They recovered well after being pegged back inside the first few overs where they found themselves wobbling at 8 for 3. Wayne Parnell's 41 off 20 propelled them to a respectable total of 157.
They started off well with the ball as Ahmed Shehzad and Rilee Rossouw both found themselves back in the pavilion with just 25 runs on the board. United struggle continued thereafter as Mohammad Sami bowled Shane Watson, but the delivery was called a no-ball, and Rumman Raees dropped Watson when the star Australian batsman was on a personal score of 18. He didn't give any more chances post that as Gladiators thrashed Islamabad United with plenty of resources in hand.
Luke Ronchi, Sahibzada Farhan, Ian Bell, C Delport, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, SR Patel, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Sami, Muhammad Musa.
Historically, Peshawar Zalmi have been of the most consistent sides of the tournament and despite the absence of Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi and their experience consequently, they haven't really lost their touch and habit of winning. With two wins in three matches, they are already off to a particularly good start and will be looking to build onto it in the upcoming fixtures.
With their next game to be played within the day's time of their win against Karachi Kings, they won't really have much time to either celebrate their win ponder upon the vulnerabilities exhibited in the match. Just like they were against Lahore Qalandars not long ago, Peshawar's bowlers were brilliant with the ball in the first few overs which laid the foundation for their victory. Hasan Ali's athletic fielding off his own bowling which led to Babar Azam's dismissal was probably the highlight and the turning point of the day.
Earlier with the bat, Peshawar Zalmi didn't get off to the kind of start they were looking for as Kamran Akmal was dismissed without adding anything to the scoreboard. They looked buried in trouble before a solid partnership between Imam ul Haq and Liam Dawson bailed them out and played a vital role in Peshawar's match to 153. Skipper Darren Sammy provided them with much-need boost towards the end of their innings as he smashed 16 runs off just five deliveries which proved invaluable at the end.
Kamran Akmal, Imam-ul-Haq, Umar Amin, Dawid Malan, Kieron Pollard, LA Dawson, DJG Sammy, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Umaid Asif, Sameen Gul.
Islamabad United are in a delicate position in the tournament where another bad result could really turn out to be fatal for their campaign. Another loss here for United could potentially push them to the bottom of the ladder and with competition growing more and more intense with every passing match, bouncing back isn't going to be easy. Peshawar Zalmi, on the other hand, are riding high with their back to back wins in the tournament. Their bowlers are doing exceedingly well in wrapping up teams for below-par totals. Batsmen, too, have done reasonably well in almost their concluded matches. Considering the recent run of the two sides, Peshawar Zalmi appears to be better placed to emerge on top in the upcoming fixture.
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