Nine overs a side game Multan Sultans 94 for 1 (Vince 61*) beat Islamabad United 91 for 7 (Munro 25, Tahir 2-13, Junaid 2-17) by nine wickets
The rain deprived Islamabad United of any points against Peshawar Zalmi on Saturday, and they will now hope it had continued long enough to ensure today’s match against Multan Sultans was rendered impossible. For once it got going, Multan delivered a lesson in ruthless efficiency, teaching Islamabad how to fly out of the blocks and develop an unassailable lead. A target of 92 might have been tricky in nine overs, but not when James Vince is in full flow it’s not. An onslaught that was frightening in its brutality and exquisite in its execution steamrolled Islamabad, taking just 24 balls for an unbeaten 61. It killed off the contest, with Multan cruising to the chase in fewer than 6.3 overs.
Islamabad were sitting fairly pretty in the opening stages of the match, having brought up their own fifty in just 3.3 overs. Their prospects looked bright when Colin Munro whipped Shahid Afridi for three sixes off his first three balls. But the wheels would come off after that for Shadab Khan’s side with wickets starting to fall with alarming frequency. Most batsmen found more height than distance on their shots, a number holing out in the deep, and in no time, a scorecard that read 57 for 1 had slumped to 91 for 7. Since the Munro offensive, only 41 runs came off the last 33 balls, and in a nine-over game, that was too much of a slowdown.
Vince vs Akif Javed
Versus implies this might have been a contest; it was, instead a blowout. For Vince, who delights and frustrates in equal measure, the former because of the elegance of his strokeplay and the latter for its ephemeral nature, found a shortend game suited his strengths wonderfully. He had displayed his timing was on point with a glorious drive through backward point off Dale Steyn, and Akif had plenty of reasons to be wary.
The first ball was heaved into the onside for four and the next a slightly fortuitous edge to third man, and things would only get better. When Akif pitched one up full, Vince leant into one of those glorious drives most responsible for putting food on his table, before a straight drive made it four in a row. There was further ignominy for the hapless Javed when he was bludgeoned through extra cover for five in a row, and the only saving grace was Vince wouldn’t be able to make it six.
That still meant eight fours had been scored off the first 11 balls of the innings. It was more a procession than a run-chase from that point onwards.
No matter how you stack the deck against bowlers and how hostile you make the conditions, Imran Tahir always seems to find a way to excel. Coming in for the fifth over – just after Afridi had been spanked for 20 in his – Tahir wasn’t fazed, taking just three balls to remove the dangerous Munro, his over costing Multan just seven. He was just as effective the second time around, this time snaring the in-form Shadab. He had a chance to make that spell an even more glittering one, but his weakest suit – his fielding – let him down as he failed to cling on to a skier by Asif Ali. Even so, 2 for 17 in his two-over spell was the perfect antidote to Munro’s destructiveness, and ensured that Multan wrestled back the momentum. Vince ensured once they had it in their grasp, they would never let of it.
Where the teams stand
For the first time in PSL history, a new team has entered the play-offs, with Multan Sultans confirming safe passage through to the last four. Islamabad have just seven points with one game to go, and may need other results to go in their favour if they are to maintain their perfect record of play-off progression.