Zalmi survive Iftikhar scare to seal narrow win

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Peshawar Zalmi 204 for 5 (Babar 64, Ayub 46, Mir 3-32) beat Multan Sultans 200 for 5 (Iftikhar 64, Rizwan 32, Jamal 2-36) by four runs

Iftikhar Ahmed‘s blistering 60 off 27 balls went in vain as Peshawar Zalmi snatched a four-run victory over table-toppers Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League on Tuesday.

Zalmi are the only franchise in Pakistan’s premier domestic T20 tournament that has beaten Sultans twice this season.

Sultans have already qualified for the playoffs with six wins from eight games and Zalmi moved closer to a place in the final four with nine points and two games in hand.

Sultans required 58 off the last three overs when Iftikhar and Chris Jordan (who finished with 30* off 12) counterattacked against seamers Aamer Jamal, Naveen-ul-Haq and Salman Irshad before falling short at 200-5.

Earlier, captain Babar Azam continued his sublime form after winning the toss and smashed 64 off 40 balls. Left-handed batter Saim Ayub made 46 off 22 balls in Zalmi’s strong total of 204-5 as both batters put on the season’s highest total of 71 runs in the powerplay.

Babar and Ayub smacked Sultans’ pace and spin as they raised a rapid 84-run stand at 12-an-over.

Ayub was ruthless against pace with his trademark big shots on the on side as he hit five sixes and three fours before he was trapped leg before wicket by tournament’s top wicket-taker Usama Mir (3-32) in his first over.

Mir leads the bowling chart with 18 wickets, but his team-mate Mohammad Ali, who has 14 wickets, had a forgetful day against Ayub and Babar as he returned with expensive figures of 0-46 off his three overs.

Mir pulled back Zalmi with his sharp legbreaks as he dismissed Tom Kohler-Cadmore (5) and then got the key wicket of Babar in his last over by having him clean bowled before Rovman Powell (23) and Jamal (12) played little cameos in the last five overs.

Sultans’ top-order struggled against rookie left-arm spinner Mehran Mumtaz, who bowled with lot of confidence in the powerplay and had Reeza Hendricks (5) caught off his own bowling in his debut PSL over.

Captain Mohammad Rizwan (32) couldn’t beat Jamal’s throw off his follow through while Asif Ali timed his jump to perfection on the edge of the boundary and plucked a brilliant catch to dismiss Dawid Malan (19) in the 12th over.

But Iftikhar and Jordan nearly pulled off a victory for Sultans with their blazing 75-run stand off just 28 balls but Zalmi’s pacers just about managed to hang on in the last three overs.

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