Sharjeel scores PSL’s first century to take United through to the final
This was the most important match of the tournament so far with these two teams battling it out for a place in the final against Quetta Gladiators. Peshawar Zalmi won the toss and chose to field first, with Sharjeel Khan and Dwayne Smith opening the innings for Islamabad United. It was a steady start for the batting side, with Sharjeel taking the initiative early on and began to stroke the ball beautifully.
Smith found it hard to adjust in the middle and kept eating up balls, piling the pressure on his partner. Sharjeel took on the responsibility and delivered in style. He hit all the bowlers for huge sixes all over the ground. Every single bowler faced Sahrjeel’s wrath! He spared no one and played arguably the best innings of the entire tournament. There were two more additions to the ‘Pepsi catch a crore’ competition, as the mighty left handed batsman kept sending the ball into the stands.
Afridi, Asghar, Tait and Wahab were all taken to the cleaners, while Smith failed to get any momentum and kept Zalmi in the game with an ugly innings. Islamabad United raced to 108/0 after 13 overs, courtesy Sharjeel.
Smith’s horrible innings finally came to an end off Shaun Tait after he scored 18 runs from an unforgivable 37 deliveries. Tait bowled out the in form Brad Haddin on the very next ball with a beautiful in-swinging yorker.
Khalid Latif was next for United as Zalmi looked to restrict United, but Sharjeel was unstoppable and kept going about his business in style. Everything he touched went away to the fence! He raced to the first century of the HBL PSL in the 16th over, after facing only 50 deliveries! Latif continued to play the supporting role, while we witnessed one of the best T20 innings from Sharjeel who seemed to be playing a different game from all his counterparts.
He was finally run out in the last over after scoring a legendary 117 from only 62 balls! Latif remained not out at 28 from 21, as Islamabad United posted a daunting total of 176/3 in their allotted overs. This total could have been a lot more had Smith not played that innings the way he did, but Sharjeel Khan was the man of the moment and peaked at the right time for United, playing a knock that will be remembered for a long time.
Dawid Malan and Kamran Akmal opened the innings for Peshawar Zalmi, with Hafeez missing out on that slot for the first time in the tournament. Samuel Badree bowled a maiden second over to pile the pressure on the batsmen. Akmal took on Irfan and put him away for plenty of runs soon after and was looking in good touch. Islamabad United got Malan cheaply, who was caught behind the stumps by Haddin off Badree in the fourth over, while Akmal continued to score runs quickly.
He went after the pacers before hitting Badree for a glorious six straight down the ground. Hafeez was also sent back to the pavilion cheaply, as Zalmi failed to get any momentum in their chase. Other than Akmal, no other batsman turned up for Zalmi as they kept losing their grip on the match. The dangerous Akmal (45 from 32 balls) was stumped by the keeper off Imran Khalid, who bowled brilliantly and made life difficult for all batsmen. Peshawar Zalmi were down and out at 68/3 after eleven overs.
Imran Khalid put the match beyond doubt in the 13th over. He picked up the crucial wicket of Brad Hodge who miscued his shot towards the fielder at long off, before bowling out Darren Sammy three balls later with a peach of a delivery. Wickets kept tumbling and the required run rate climbed up. Imran Khalid ended up picking four wickets and made it all too comfortable for United in the field. Not a single batsman fired at the death, with Russell, Irfan and Sami all picking up a wicket towards the end.
With the required rate at 17, Afridi hit a few big shots but there was no way Zalmi could make it home as they stood at 110/8 after 17 overs. He too was dismissed in the 18th over after hitting a few big shots, before Russell bowled out Asghar for a golden duck to finish the match off in style, as the Zalmis were all out for 126. Sharjeel was awarded the man of the match award as Islamabad United capped off a comfortable win by 50 runs, and will now face Quetta Gladiators in the final on Tuesday. This was heartbreaking for Peshawar Zalmi, who would be quite happy with the cricket they played in the entire tournament.