Lahore Qalanders 166 for six off 20 overs
Rizwan 50 not out; Sami 2-21)
Islamabad United 169 for six off 15.5 overs
(Watson 79, Sharjeel 79 not out; Adil 2-41
Islamabad United won by 8 wickets
Story of the match
SHARJAH // Given Pakistan’s squad for the Asia Cup and World Twenty20 had been announced earlier in the day, any late bids for selection were entirely futile on Wednesday evening.
That did not stop a variety of worthy causes dispatching the ball to all parts of Sharjah in a vain attempt to be noticed, though.
Sharjeel Khan and Mohammed Rizwan, for example, could not have pressed their cause any more vividly had they pogoed on a length, shouting “Pick me, pick me!”
Which was great, as it meant a substantial crowd at the UAE's oldest ground enjoyed a Twenty20 treat as the Pakistan Super League arrived in town. Throw in some customary Shane Watson fireworks, and a good time was had by all.
Sharjeel’s effort, opening the innings for Islamabad United, was the most decisive contribution by a Pakistani in the ninth match of the PSL.
His innings of 79 not out, which paved the way for a facile win over Lahore Qalanders, included an over worth 20 off the Pakistan Test seamer Ehsan Adil, and a few lost balls besides.
It just went to show, Ahmed Shehzad is not the only opener who might be feeling hard done by missing out on the forthcoming tours of Bangladesh and India.
Rizwan, for his part, made his own peace with a stadium with which he had had an uneasy relationship with until now.
The first time they really made each other’s acquaintance, the feisty Pakistan batsman caused a controversy, even though he was not even playing at the time.
As 12th man and drinks-carrier in a Test in November, he provoked ire from England’s players for mocking them after a dismissal was overturned in Pakistan’s favour.
Then, when given a chance to prove he is less mouth, more substance in a limited-overs international that followed, he botched again, as he fell to a comical run out. This time, though, he made a fine half-century.
Although it hoisted his side to something that seemed defendable at the time, in reality it was a long way short.
Shane Watson is a master of this format, the first name on the wanted list for any new franchise intent on success.
He really does not need any extra help from the opposition. He was granted a big helping hand, though, when Cameron Delport failed to lay one on a steepling catch from him in the third over of Islamabad’s reply.
The Australian opener, who was standing in as captain for the injured Misbah-ul-Haq, topped edged Kevon Cooper. It went a long way up, but barely to the edge of the 30-yard circle. It squirmed through Delport’s grasp, and United were off and running.
Man of the match
Shane Watson Outstanding performances by Pakistanis abounded, but it was the Australian who stole the show. The cleanliness of his striking is remarkable to witness up close.
No wonder the opposition fielders panicked so much whenever he was on strike. Maybe the outcome might have been different were they able to catch.
The National’s verdict
Sharjah was clearly ready for the PSL to arrive. The stands at the football stadium end of the ground were packed, and the enthusiasm they engendered brought to mind the glory days of Sharjah Cup cricket. Impressive stuff, bearing in mind it was a work night.
It was hard to tell who the majority were supporting. Most just seemed happy to be there witnessing some high-quality T20 cricket. Those who were in favour of the franchise from the Pakistan capital, though, were able to laugh the loudest.
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