PSL: Asif Ali shines in Islamabad United’s 28-run victory over Lahore Qalandars

After a thrilling comeback, Islamabad United made it to the top of the Pakistan Super League standings with a 28-run victory over Lahore Qalandars.

After skipper Shadab Khan won the toss and surprised nearly everyone by electing to bat on Sunday night, Pakistan international Asif Ali rescued Islamabad from a hazardous 20-5 position with a 43-ball 75 to propel the two-time champion to a total of 152-7.

It was the first time Islamabad had chosen to bat first after winning the toss in six PSL editions; on the other 24 occasions, Islamabad had chosen to chase after winning the toss.

In reply, Lahore was cruising at 86-2 before losing seven wickets for 14 runs and being bowled out for 124 in 18.2 overs. Last batsman Rauf (17) of Lahore was one of the three players in his side to reach double digits, as Islamabad fast bowler Mohammad Musa (3-18) set the tone, ably assisted by the two leg-spinners Shadab (2-14) and Fawad Ahmed (2-27).

Both Lahore and Islamabad have ten points, although Islamabad’s net run rate is higher.

James Faulkner (3-19), an Australian left-arm swing bowler who took three early Islamabad wickets, continued to impress in the first half.

Usman Khawaja, another Australian, was bowled without scoring by Shaheen Afridi in the opening over, and Islamabad had lost half the side by the eighth over when Shadab was caught behind off Rauf’s first delivery.

With a breezy 123-run stand, Ali and Iftikhar Ahmed delivered a counterpunch. Ali blasted six fours and dominated Rashid Khan’s leg-spin who finished with a rare four-over wicketless spell.

Ali was dismissed unexpectedly. In the penultimate over, he attempted to pull Afridi but was dragged well back into the crease and clipped the bails with his pads. Ahmed was also caught in the deep in the death over, giving Rauf his second wicket.

Lahore’s opening pair Fakhar Zaman and captain Sohail Akhtar gave a solid start but their middle order was undone by Musa in his successive overs. Lahore innings collapsed from 86-2 to 100-9 in the 15th over before getting bowled out with 10 balls to spare.

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