Asif Ali became a hero while fast bowler Rahat Ali turned villain from the hero as Islamabad United opened their title defence with a hard-earned five-wicket win in Dubai on Thursday.
Asif smashed a whirlwind 19-ball 36 with three sixes and two boundaries to guide defending champions Islamabad United to a five-wicket win as Pakistan Super League kicked off in Dubai on Thursday.
The 27-year-old, son of an Ironsmith from Faisalabad, wielded his bat like a hammer as Islamabad United chased down the 172-run target with four balls to spare, with Faheem Ashraf sending the ball sailing over mid-wicket for the winning six.
Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman had lifted Lahore to 171-8 with a polished 44-ball 65 studded with three sixes and six boundaries while fellow opener Sohail Akhtar made 30-ball 37.
Left-arm paceman Rahat li turned from hero to villain as Lahore Qalandars — having finished last in all three editions of the PSL — were brought back in the game with four wickets in his three overs for just 13 runs. But Asif smashed Rahat for two sixes in the 18th over to spoil his figures and snatched victory for Islamabad.
Hussian Talat made 30-ball 37 with three fours and a six but Islamabad were in a spot of bother, needing 103 in the last ten overs. But Asif put them on the winning ways with some clean hitting.
Luke Ronchi, top run-getter in last year’s PSL with 435 in 11 games, had started off well with 17-ball 27 with six and four boundaries but became one of three wickets to fall in the sixth over bowled by Rahat.
Talat and Cameroon Delport, who made 24 with two sixes, added 55 for the fourth wicket before Asif gave the finishing touches.
Lahore were badly let down by lanky Pakistan paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi who conceded 45 runs in his four wicket-less overs.
Lahore, like in the past three editions, lost their way in the final overs after getting a brisk 97-run start by the 11th over. They managed just 78 runs in the last ten, losing eight wickets.
Fakhar Zaman showed his intentions with the very first ball, driving Mohammad Sami exquisitely through the covers for a boundary and then lifted spinner Samit Patel for a six to deep mid-wicket boundary followed by a boundary.
At the other end, Sohail Akhtar was in an equally punishing mood, hitting four boundaries and a six in his 30-ball 37.
A capacity crowd welcomed AB de Villiers who is featuring for the first time in HBL PSL. After initial struggle AB smashed two exquisite boundaries, piercing the narrow gap in the field. He then smashed a six off Hussain Talat but a brilliant catch by Phil Salt cut short his innings.
AB’s whack off seamer Waqas Maqsood was smartly held at the boundary as Salt moved back, leapt up over his left shoulder to grab the ball head high with both hands. AB hit two boundaries and a six in his 17-ball 24.
Anton Devcich (14), Brendon Taylor )two), Carlos Brathwaite (six) and Mohammad Hafeez (five not out) — all failed to give impetus to the innings as Lahore lost six wickets for just 34 runs.
Karachi Kings take on Multan Sultans while old rivals Quetta Gladiators meet Peshawar Zalmi in a doubleheader on Friday.