Islamabad United 165 for 2 (Ronchi 74, Munro 50) beat Multan Sultans 164 for 8 (Ashraf 50, Butt 4-27)
That’s the Islamabad United we all know. It might have been predictable, but there was little Multan Sultans could do in the face of a blistering onslaught from Luke Ronchi and Colin Munro to bring down the target of 168. Both raced to half-centuries, and the game as a contest appeared to be over well before the final runs were actually taken, with 3.2 overs to spare. Ronchi (74 off 45) fell just two runs short of the target, looking to hit the winning runs.
The top order has been key to Islamabad’s success so often across the PSL, and with both openers firing, they got off to a flyer. Imran Tahir, introduced in the second over because Ronchi and Munro ostensibly struggle against leg spin, was instead hounded out of the attack after an over in which the batsmen plundered 22 runs. Forty-seven came off the first four, and when the first wicket fell, the partnership already read 92 in 59 balls.
The wicket didn’t stymie the run chase much, with Dawid Malan happy to carry on in Ronchi’s slipstream. Multan tried everything, including bringing on Moeen Ali, who had been the trump card against Lahore Qalandars in the last game. But, he was carted for 19 in his first over and Islamabad raced towards a first win of the tournament.
Islamabad had been tighter with the ball earlier on, helped by how, for the second time in as many days, the Multan captain Shan Masood fell after getting a start. The further loss of Moeen and Rilee Rossouw within three balls was a profound blow to Multans’ momentum, and when James Vince fell in the next over thanks to an exquisite yorker from Amad Butt (4-27) the game was on its way to its very predictable conclusion.
A tale of two Powerplays
The contrast between the two sides’ opening six overs was essential to the outcome of the match. Whereas Islamabad went on the attack straightaway, Multan took time before the scoreboard began to tick over. Masood and Vince don’t have the explosive abilities of their Islamabad counterparts, and they had managed just 10 runs in the first 3 overs, a whopping 28 fewer than Islamabad at the same stage. And while Islamabad didn’t lose a wicket in the first six, Multan lost Masood, who holed out to fine leg off the final ball of the sixth over.
Despite Masood’s early departure, Multan weren’t in too troublesome a position after the first nine overs. That was the only wicket that had fallen, and Moeen was alongside Vince, who appeared to be growing in confidence. With Multan having accumulated 69 in the first nine, it was high time to accelerate.
Islamabad, though, saw their chance to strike. Butt came on, and first ball of the over, deceived Moeen with the pace, forcing the England batsman to slice the ball up into the air. It was an easy catch for extra cover, and an early departure for Moeen, who, at this early stage of the PSL hasn’t quite been at his best.
The killer blow came a couple of balls later. When Rossouw, who has often saved his best for the PSL, came on strike for his first ball, the variation in pace worked again. He would scoop the ball to the same spot, with Faheem Ashraf once more taking the simplest of catches. Islamabad were suddenly into the middle order and Multan found themselves having to make serious adjustments around the kind of target they had expected to set.
Star of the Day
While Islamabad knocked off the runs without a single Pakistan player so much as coming out to bat, the ease of the victory had been made possible by a local lad yet to take his international bow.
Butt, 24, had suffered a pounding at Quetta Gladiators’ hands, going for 50 in four overs, but he grasped the chance to make amends with both hands. Not many bowlers make complete mugs of Moeen and Rossouw in the same over, and yet that’s precisely what sliced open the game for Islamabad in the 10th over.
Incredulously, that wasn’t by his finest moment of the day. In his following over, he knocked Vince off his feet with a perfect yorker that Waqar Younis, who was on commentary at the time, would have been proud of. It went through the batsman’s legs to take out the leg stump. Vince was then 42 off 30 balls, and Multan needed him to be the anchor for the final eight overs, only for Butt to decisively uproot him. He would return at the death to dismiss Sohail Tanvir to claim his fourth wicket of the day and register his best-ever T20 figures.
Where the teams stand
Both Multan and Islamabad now have one win each, joining Quetta and Peshawar Zalmi, who are in the same situation. Karachi Kings remain the only team with a perfect record, while Lahore are the only side yet to win after the first three days.