PSL 2021: Asif Ali powers Islamabad United to unlikely win over Lahore Qalandars

Two-time champions prevails by 28 runs in Abu Dhabi despite early collapse

Islamabad United's Asif Ali scored a fine half-century in the PSL 2021 match against Lahore Qalandars. Photo: PCB
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Asif Ali inspired a remarkable win as Islamabad United won a game that had twice seemed lost against Lahore Qalandars in the PSL in Abu Dhabi.

The two-time champions avenged their defeat to the same side when the league had resumed at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

The 28-run victory meant Islamabad leapfrogged Lahore at the top of the table.

At the start of the game, it appeared there was only going to be one winner – and it was not Islamabad.

After four balls of Shaheen Afridi’s blistering opening over, the score read nought for two.

Having played and missed at the first two deliveries, Usman Khawaja finally got something on the third, only to nick it behind.

Rohail Nazir fell to the next ball. He was, though reprieved, after the decision review showed Shaheen had overstepped.

That was only brief respite. By the start of the seventh over, Islamabad were 20-5 and seemingly out of the game, with James Faulkner extending his fine form since joining Lahore by taking three wickets.

The rescue act was a remarkable one for Islamabad. Asif refused to take notice of the parlous state his side were in, and just started blazing away.

No matter that he was playing against one of the most formidable bowling attacks in franchise cricket. He just set upon them, sending ball after ball to the boundary.

His blitz brought him five sixes, six fours, 75 from 43 balls, and a share in a stand worth 123 with Iftikhar Ahmed in a little more than 12 overs which spun the game on its head.

So good was his counter-attack that Shaheen made a point of running back from celebrating, after he eventually had Asif hit wicket, to pat him on the back and shake his hand.

“The conditions were difficult and we were under pressure,” Asif said. “We wanted to bat deep, and that's what I told my partner [Ifthikar].”

Although the duo hauled their side to 152-7 from their 20 overs, that hardly appeared enough given the rapid start provided by the Lahore openers.

Fakhar Zaman made 44 and Sohail Akhtar 34 as the in-form side in green reached 86-2 at the halfway point of the chase.

Once Mohammed Hafeez fell to the first ball of the 11th over, though, Lahore were sent into a tailspin from which they could not recover.

Nobody between the openers and No 11 Haris Rauf – who railed against the inevitable by swishing 17 from 11 balls – managed double figures.

Shadab Khan took two for 14, and Mohammed Musa three for 18 as Lahore capitulated to a 28 run loss with 10 deliveries left unused.