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Babar’s century and Arif’s fifer help Zalmi beat United in high-scoring clash

By: Muhammad Faheem Anwar

ISLAMABAD: Peshawar Zalmi completed a hat-trick of wins in HBL PSL 9 as they inflicted an eight-run defeat over Islamabad United at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on Monday night. An unbeaten century by skipper Babar Azam helped them set a 202-run target, which they defended successfully courtesy of a five-for by leg-spinner Arif Yaqoob.

Shadab Khan won the toss and opted to field first. Peshawar Zalmi opening duo, Babar Azam and Saim Ayub, backed up their 136-run stand in the previous game with a strong start against Islamabad United, amassing an unbeaten 65 runs in the powerplay.

Salman Ali Agha provided the first breakthrough for United, as he removed Saim (38, 21b, 3x4s, 2x6s) in the eighth over to bring an end to the 77-run opening stand. Right after, Shadab bowled a double wicket over, claiming both Mohammad Haris and Haseebullah cheaply, to reign Peshawar in after their solid start.

At the halfway mark, Peshawar stood at 87-3 with Babar and Paul Walter at the crease. They added 34 runs together to the total before Walter (19, 13b, 2x4s) was run out by Shadab at the non-striker’s end in the 14th over. On the last delivery of the 15th over, Rovman Powell was caught behind for a-run-a-ball eight, with just one boundary off Naseem Shah’s bowling.

Asif Ali chipped in with an unbeaten 17 off nine on the back of two fours, contributing to a sixth-wicket stand that yielded an undefeated 77 from just 31 deliveries. Babar, playing the aggressor role, contributed 59 on 22 balls to this partnership, as they aided Peshawar to 201-5 after 20 overs.

Peshawar amassed 76 runs in the final five overs, with the 18th over going for 23 runs courtesy of four boundaries and one six scored by Babar off Hunain Shah’s bowling.

Babar brought up his 11th T20 century as he finished the innings with an unbeaten 111 off 63, on the back of an impressive tally of 14 boundaries and two maximums. With his knock today, Babar also overtook Lahore’s Rassie van der Dussen as the current leading run-scorer of HBL PSL 9..

Shadab was the pick of the bowlers for Islamabad, grabbing two wickets at the expense of 28 runs in four overs. Naseem and Salman returned with one wicket each.

In return, opening batter, Jordan Cox only managed 13 on 10 with one four, before he was dismissed by Luke Wood. Skipper Shadab came in to bat at number three, whilst in pursuit of 202-run target. He could only add six off eight before he was caught by Saim off Arif Yaqoob’s bowling. Salman holed one out straight to Haris off Saim’s bowling as the third wicket fell for Islamabad in the 10th over, who stood at 74-3 at the halfway mark.

Azam Khan, the next batter in, took charge from the get-go. He smashed two sixes against Arif in the 11th over, setting the tone for the rest of his knock. He partnered with opening batter Colin Munro to stitch a 108-run fourth-wicket stand that brought Islamabad in touching distance of the target.

Munro brought up his half-century in the 14th over with a boundary against Salman Irshad, meanwhile, Azam did the same in the 16th over, taking only 21 deliveries to do so.

Naveen-ul-Haq provided the breakthrough for Zalmi as he got rid of Azam on the last ball of the 18th over. The wicketkeeper-batter walked back for an incredible 75 off just 30, showcasing six boundaries and as many maximums.

Arif, bowling the penultimate over with 21 runs required, bagged four wickets while giving just two runs to change the course of the game. He became the first spinner to take four wickets in one over in HBL PSL history, as well as registering the first five-wicket haul of the tournament this season. Saim, Wood, Naveen and Salman had a wicket each as well.

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