Sports

Sultans thrash United to ensure play-offs qualification

Rawalpindi, 8 March 2020: Multan Sultans became the first team to ensure qualification in the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 season as they thumped Islamabad United in a rain reduced nine-over match at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium as on Sunday.

The nine wicket victory further consolidated Sultans’ stay at the top of the HBL PSL 2020 points table. They now have 11 points after seven games (five wins, one no-result, one loss) and are guaranteed a place in the play-offs which will feature the top-four teams at the end of the group stage.

United who have a mere seven points after nine games, have an uphill task ahead to ensure play-off qualification, they would not only need to win their last match (vs Karachi Kings on 14 March) but might also have to rely on other results for progress to the play-offs stage.

On Sunday afternoon, another monumental effort by the ground staff at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium ensured the staging of the game after heavy rain had left the outfield considerably wet before the start of the match. The match eventually started after a more than two-hour delay.

Sultans’ skipper Shan Masood won the toss and opted to bowl first, United were restricted to 91 for seven in their nine overs. Opener Colin Munro top-scored with 25 off 12 balls, all his three sixes came off successive balls of a Shahid Afridi over that went for 20 runs. But other than the Afridi over, United struggled to get the Sultans’ bowlers away.

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir took two wickets for 13 runs in two probing overs while left-armer Junaid Khan took two for 13 in his two-over spell.

Besides Munro, Luke Ronchi with 18 and captain Shadab Khan with 14 were the only batsmen to reach double figures.

Man-of-the-match James Vince produced a dazzling display of power-hitting with an unbeaten 61 off 24 balls (11 fours, one six) to ensure a comfortable win for Sultans with 14 balls to spare. Vince added 68 runs for the first wicket with Zeeshan Ashraf (16) and finished the game off in Moeen Ali’s ( 14 not out, five balls, three fours) company after Zeeshan was dismissed by Shadab.

Scores in brief

Islamabad United 91 for 7, 9 overs (Colin Munro 25, Luke Ronchi 18; Imran Tahir 2-13, Junaid Khan 2-17)

Multan Sultans 94 for 1, 6.4 overs (James Vince 61 not out, Zeeshan Ashraf 16; Shadab Khan 1-30)

Result: Multan Sultans win by nine wickets

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