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Cricket news - Asif Ali engineers sensational win for Islamabad United

Asif Ali hit 75 off 43 balls

Asif Ali hit 75 off 43 balls

Islamabad United pulled off a memorable victory in a see-saw game that saw them find new heroes at various stages of the match. Headlining those acts was a brilliant, counter-attacking 43-ball 75 from Asif Ali that turned pivotal after Islamabad United dropped to 20/5 at one stage.

Having opted to bat for the first time ever in the PSL, Islamabad's change of tact never went to plan. At the outset, it was the brilliance of Shaheen Afridi first and then James Faulkner that reduced them to a bumbling mess in the powerplay. Afridi had the ball moving consistently, and beat Usman Khawaja's outside edge twice before having him nick behind in the opening over. He could have had Rohail Nazir LBW off the next ball too but for a no ball. Nazir could not do much about that reprieve though as he was LBW in the next over to Faulkner, becoming the first of his three victims. Faulkner had Munro LBW with an incoming delivery in his next over and then saw Hussain Talat whip one off his pads straight to deep square leg. To add to Islambad's woes, Haris Rauf struck off the first delivery of his match with Shadab Khan nicking behind, and saw them losing five for next to nothing just after the powerplay.

It was then that Asif Ali joined hands with Iftikhar Ahmed, who was happy to drop anchor and watch the fireworks from the other end. Ali wasted no time in getting into a counter-attacking mode thumping boundaries through the offside off Faulkner and Haris Rauf to kickstart his innings. He took it a notch up in the following overs - lofting Ahmed Daniyal over long on and slog sweeping Rashid Khan - with sixes. He went on to produce the same results a couple of times more before getting a reprieve when a ripping top spinner from Rashid Khan bounced up steeply to beat his charge and proved too difficult for Ben Dunk to gather behind the stumps. Having got to a 28-ball fifty by then, Ali had already done enough to resurrect the innings along with Ahmed.

The latter switched gears getting into the fifteenth over of the innings, as Islamabad now targeted a big finish. Ahmed on 16 after his first 17 balls until then, took 33 off the next 20 balls. This strong finish enabled Islamabad to finish with a competitive total of 152, which seemed a remote possibility at one stage of the innings.

In reply, Lahore did not allow Islamabad to ride the momentum gained as the openers - Fakhar Zaman and Sohail Akhtar - gave them a rousing stand of 55 in the powerplay. Akhtar eased into the innings with a couple of neatly timed boundaries off an errant Mohammad Wasim Jr in the opening over, while Zaman took his time before muscling consecutive boundaries off Muhammad Musa. Akhtar continued to make Wasim Jr pay in his next over as well taking 13 off it, to go along with the 11 in the first over. He continued in the same vein when leg spinner Fawad Ahmed came in, slashing and dabbing a couple of boundaries, before he missed a sweep to be LBW in the same over. Islamabad then prised out another opening in the following over when Zeeshan Ashraf was run out for just 1 after a mix up.

Mohamamad Hafeez, along with Zaman kept the momentum up briefly before Musa struck twice - Hafeez caught at deep square leg and Ben Dunk nicking behind - in the 11th over. He then followed it up by having Zaman too caught at third man in his next over, bringing Islamabad roaring back into the game.

Things continued upwards for Islamabad as skipper Shadab Khan too imposed himself on the game, getting Tim David top edging a slog sweep and Rashid Khan missing a googly in the same over to reduce Lahore to a pitiable 99/7. It soon turned 100/8 as Shaheen Afridi was run out for a duck after a mix-up with Faulkner.

Islamabad completed a sensational 28-run victory eventually when Haris Rauf's late blows were stopped by a well-judged catch at the fence by Iftikhar Ahmed, and pipped their opponents of the night for the top spot in the points table.

Brief Scores: Islamabad United 152/7 (Asif Ali 75, Iftikhar Ahmed 49; James Faulkner 3-19) beat Lahore Qalandars 124 (Fakhar Zaman 44; Mohammad Musa 3-18) by 28 runs