Miller, Rizwan fifties help Sultans extend lead at the top

Miller, Rizwan fifties help Sultans extend lead at the top
Miller, Rizwan fifties help Sultans extend lead at the top

Multan Sultans 190 for 4 (Miller 52, Rizwan 50, Pollard 32, Raees 1-25) beat Islamabad United 138 (Van der Dussen 49, Munro 31, Afridi 4-22, Ilyas 2-12) by 52 runs

After two wins against struggling sides, this from Multan Sultans wasn’t so much a victory as it was a statement of intent. A tremendous bowling performance against a formidable Islamabad United team saw them blow away the two-time champions and skittle them out for 138 inside 18 overs. They never really let United keep up with the asking rate, and the chase of 191 snuffed out every time it looked like it was about to begin.

Ilyas was both economical and destructive up top, keeping a lid on the top order with accurate lines and pace variations while removing both openers, Paul Stirling and Hassan Nawaz. When a third-wicket stand between the destructive duo of Colin Munro and Rassie van der Dussen – each of whom had played their parts in Islamabad’s vanquishing of Karachi Kings earlier this week – threatened to get United back on track, it was Mir’s turn to impress. An almost unreadable googly kissed Munro’s outside edge through to the keeper before Shadab Khan holed out into the deep in the same match-turning over.

It was followed by an absorbing, high-quality battle between Azam Khan and Ihsanullah, the bowler toying with the batter in the way he varied his lengths. Azam struggled to get away the short ball or the yorker. In the 12th and 14th overs, as the run rate soared past 11, United’s premier middle order power hitter managed just one run across eight deliveries against the PSL’s leading wicket-taker.

Afridi followed up with the killer blow with three wickets in the 17th over. Van der Dussen was still around on 49, but a change of pace drew his top edge before Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Wasim were sent on their way off consecutive deliveries. Ihsanullah returned to apply the coup de grace, cleaning up Tom Curran and Abrar Ahmed off successive deliveries to put the game to bed and claim the reward his performance across the spell merited.

Sultans had earlier begun steadily with the bat after losing Shan Masoon early, thanks to a half-century from Mohammad Rizwan and a 30-ball 36 from Rilee Rossouw. The pair have tended to complement each other well during the early stage of this PSL, particularly with Masood struggling for rhythm at present. Rizwan took on a more proactive role, though, finding timing easier to come than Rossouw. He brought up his fifty in 37 balls before Shadab trapped him in front.
That brought David Miller and Kieron Pollard together, and perhaps the passage of play that took the game away from United. Across 40 balls, the two smashed 78 runs, with Miller blitzing his way to a 25-ball 52. Shadab and Wasim would come in for particular punishment, with Miller plundering 24 in an over off the Islamabad captain. At the death, Wasim was carted for 28 in his final two overs, with Pollard capping off the innings with three successive fours.

Pollard would later say Multan were aiming for 200, but the 190 they posted proved more than enough for a white-hot bowling line-up.

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