KARACHI: Defending champions, Quetta Gladiators, emerged victors against Islamabad United by three wickets in the opening match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020, helped by young Azam Khan’s commendable batting.
Azam — the Gladiators’ 21-year-old emerging pick — smashed three shots over the boundary and stroked five shots to the fence to score 59 off 33 that helped Quetta chase a 169-run target in 18.3 overs for a loss of seven wickets.
Earlier, Islamabad got a blow on the tournament’s first ball when Colin Munro was caught and bowled by Mohammad Nawaz.
After the first wicket was lost, Dawid Malan and Luke Ronchi tried to rebuild the innings and added 38 runs in 22 deliveries before the latter was caught at backward point off Sohail Khan after scoring 23.
Following Ronchi’s fall, it was Malan’s turn to take the charge and he did so by scoring some quick runs. The former added 68 runs for the third wicket before his partner, Hussain Talat (19), was caught by Ahmed Shahzad off Mohammad Hasnain.
Colin Ingram was next to go and his wicket was followed by Malan’s departure. Malan had scored 64 off 50, smashing five fours and three sixes as Islamabad lost its last six wickets for just 41 runs.
Mohammad Hasnain got four wickets conceding 25 runs. Ben Cutting got three, giving 31 runs in four overs.
In response, Quetta also lost three wickets. Jason Roy (0) and Ahmed Shahzad (7) were sent back to the pavilion by Mohammad Musa while Shane Watson was run out after scoring 15.
Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and Azam added 62 runs for the fourth wicket partnership and laid the foundation for Gladiators’ victory.
Azam top-scored with 59, while Sarfaraz and Sohail Khan added 21 and 18 runs, respectively, before Ben Cutting (22 off 12) smashed a six off Shadab Khan on long-off to complete Quetta’s win with nine balls to spare.