10 matches into Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021, and on every occasion, the team batting second has come out on top. The latest such instance saw Peshawar Zalmi defeat Islamabad United by six wickets at the National Stadium in Karachi on Saturday (February 27).
Zalmi got off to a great start with the ball after they won the toss and unsurprisingly put United into bat. It was Peshawar’s captain Wahab Riaz with a breakthrough in the first over of the game. Playing in his first match of the season, Paul Stirling was bowled for just one by Wahab.
Alex Hales, who has been in a rich vein of form recently, looked in sublime touch once again, but he saw two more wickets fall at the other end during the Powerplay. Philip Salt was bowled by Saqib Mahmood for 9 before Umaid Asif got the wicket of Faheem Ashraf for 2 just an over later.
After three wickets fell in the Powerplay, Islamabad captain Shadab Khan had to head back to the pavilion next after some hesitant running between the wickets.
The crucial moment of the innings though came in the 11th over when the in-form Hales was dismissed by fellow Englishman Saqib for 41. With the early loss of wickets, United needed a big innings from Hales and he was looking good before hitting a full toss straight to the fielder at deep mid-wicket.
It was a procession of wickets from thereon, and despite Hussain Talat and Asif Ali scoring 22 and 19 respectively, United were bowled out for just 118. After a poor bowling display on Friday (February 26) against Quetta Gladiators, Wahab was the star for Zalmi this time, taking four wickets, while Saqib also shone, accounting for three dismissals. On the whole, it was a terrific all-round bowling performance from the 2017 PSL champions.
Going by what had happened over the last week, you'd have thought that a target of 119 would be a cakewalk for the team batting second, but it wasn’t a flawless run-chase for Zalmi. The team from Peshawar lost both their openers, Imam-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal, within the first couple of overs with Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim dismissing them respectively.
They recovered well from those early hiccups and found themselves in a comfortable position soon enough thanks to Tom Kohler-Cadmore's run-a-ball 46. While the right-handed batsman began slowly, he upped the ante once he was set and his 63-run third-wicket partnership with Shoaib Malik put Peshawar in the driver's seat.
Kohler-Cadmore was dismissed by Fawad Ahmed with 50 runs still needed and United might have thought that they had a tiny opening. That hope didn't stay for long though as Haider Ali announced his arrival to the crease with a six and a four off the following two deliveries which brought the required run-rate to below six.
Haider played another superb innings for Zalmi, scoring 36 from 18 deliveries. While he might have been disappointed to have not been at the crease at the end, it was a knock that confirmed the win for Peshawar after Kohler-Cadmore and Malik had set the platform. The latter was unbeaten on 29 at the finishing line.
For United, it was a poor outing and that was especially summed up when the match ended after they conceded five overthrows. On the other hand, Zalmi will be delighted to have secured their third consecutive win which sees them head to the top of the league table.