Miller, Abbas help Sultans swat away United

Miller, Abbas help Sultans swat away United

MULTAN: Islamabad United had wrested a foothold at a raucous Multan Cricket Stadium against the Multan Sultans, a side thriving at their home ground, on Sunday. But then came that over by Usama Mir, tilting this HBL Pakistan Super League in his side’s favour. There had been a similar situation in the Sultans’ innings earlier — the loss of two wickets — only for David Miller to play a blinder, ably supported by Kieron Pollard, to power his side to 190-4.

For United, down to 90-4 by the end of the 11th over, that responsibility fell to Rassie van der Dussen and Azam Khan but a sustained counterattack never materialised; the latter seeing his timber knocked back by Abbas Afridi (4-22) before the pacer returned in the 17th over to dismiss the South African to end the match as a contest.

United then fell like dominoes with Abbas then getting two in two, taking a superb catch off his own bowling to dismiss Faheem Ashraf and then getting Mohammad Wasim Jr caught behind. Wicket-keeper and captain Mohammad Rizwan then took an impressive diving catch on the run to see the end of Tom Curran to give the impressive Ihsanullah (2-19) his first wicket and the fast bowler then cleaned up tailender Abrar Ahmed to finish off United for 138 with just over two overs to spare.

The 52-run victory was the third in a row for the Sultans, who opened the campaign with a one-run loss to defending champions Lahore Qalandars while United fell back to earth after their comprehensive victory over Karachi Kings in their opening match.

United would feel they let the Sultans off the hook after electing to field when their captain Shadab Khan got Rizwan (50) lbw with a flighted delivery halfway through the 13th over; reducing their opponents to 97-3. Rizwan had seen the in-form Rilee Rossouw (36) depart five balls earlier, the southpaw finding his compatriot van der Dussen at the square-leg fence to bring the end of a 91-run stand after the early departure of opener Shan Masood, caught at gully off Rumman Raees.

What followed was an incredible display of power-hitting by Miller, who pummelled Shadab soon after arriving at the crease. The first three deliveries of the 15th over by the spinner cleared the ropes; the first six down long-off with the second and third wider than the first. Miller would finish that over with a boundary and then got a four off Curran on the last ball of the next over.

Pollard (32 not out) then got on the act in the 17th over, smashing Rumman down the ground for six first ball and then seeing his outside edge fly to the backward point boundary. Miller took charge in the next over, hitting Wasim for a four and a six before holing out to Faheem on the extra cover boundary off Wasim on the final ball of the after making 52 off 25. But Pollard finished off the innings with aplomb, hitting three fours in succession.

United showed ambition as they started the chase, especially the young Hasan Nawaz, who was unfazed after the early loss of his opening partner Paul Stirling and drove Mohammad Ilyas (2-12) straight to Miller at mid-on. Hasan hit two fours and a six — all off Khushdil Shah — but his enterprising 21-run knock was ended by Ilyas with Usama completing the dismissal with a superb catch.

Van der Dussen (49) and Munro (31) then got stuck in; the New Zealander getting off the mark with a big six of Carlos Brathwaite and van der Dussen got a four before the South African improvised and flicked Ihsanullah for a six over fine leg. Eighteen deliveries then went without a boundary before Munro took on Usama (2-33), driving the spinner for four through the offside and then cracking a six over long-on.

But Usama returned in the 11th over to change the spectre of the game, ending the 56-run stand by first dismissing Munro with a googly with Rizwan taking a sharp catch and then sending back Shadab, who perished on the boundary in an attempt to accelerate. Usama was hammered for a four and a six by Azam as he returned to bowl his final over but then came the Abbas show and the Sultans powered to victory.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2023


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