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Babar, Arif lift Zalmi to edge United in a high-scoring thriller

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LAHORE: Babar Azam’s quickfire century, followed by Arif Yaqoob’s five-wicket haul propelled Peshawar Zalmi to an eight-run victory over Islamabad United in the 13th match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9 here at Gaddafi Stadium on Monday.

Chasing a mammoth 202-run target, the United fell short of the victory despite a sensational partnership between Azam Khan and Colin Munro.

The United had a shaky start to the run chase as they lost Jordan Cox (13) in the fifth over with just 32 runs on the board.

The United then lost two more wickets in quick succession as Shadab Khan (6) and Salman Ali Agha (14) walked back after modest contributions.

Azam Khan joined Munro in the middle with the United reeling at 73/3 in 9.3 overs and turned the game on its head with an astounding knock.

The right-handed batter dominated the 108-run stand with Munro, scoring 75 off just 30 deliveries with the help of six boundaries and as many sixes.

His magnificent knock ended on the final delivery of the 18th over when he mistimed a shot off Naveen-ul-Haq.

His partner Munro followed his footsteps on the next delivery which prompted a lower-order collapse. The left-handed batter made 71 in 53 balls, hitting seven boundaries and a six.

Spinner Arif Yaqoob brought the game back into Zalmi’s command by picking up three more wickets in the penultimate over and finished with astonishing figures of 5/27 – the first five-wicket haul of the PSL 9.

The United then needed 19 runs off the final over and they eventually came up short despite Naseem Shah’s six on the second delivery.

Besides Yaqoob, Salman Irshad, Naveen, Luke Wood and Saim Ayub made one scalp each.

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Put into bat first, Zalmi’s openers Saim Ayub and Babar once again scripted a flourishing start with a 73-run partnership.

The in-form duo dominated the United bowlers and scored at a brisk rate until Ayub was cleaned up by Salman Ali Agha in the eighth over.

Ayub remained a notable run-getter for the Zalmi with a 21-ball 38 which featured three boundaries and two sixes.

His dismissal fuelled United with momentum and their captain solidified their position by striking twice in the next over, removing Mohammad Haris and Haseebullah Khan.

The successive blows had reduced Zalmi to 80/3 in 8.4 overs and the former champions, as a result, went into a defensive mode.

The Zalmi then lost two more wickets — Paul Walter (19) and Rovman Powell (eight) — in quick succession and slipped to 124/5 in 14.5 overs.

But Babar Azam launched a ruthless counterattack on the United with belligerent hitting and turned the game on its head.

The highlight of his sensational hitting was an expensive 18th over when he clobbered four boundaries and a six to young Hunain Shah.

He then hit a boundary on the first delivery of Tymall Mills’ final over and followed it up with a single to bring up his second PSL century.

Babar Azam finished as the top-scorer for the Zalmi with an unbeaten 111 off just 63 deliveries with the help of 14 boundaries and two sixes.

He was supported by hard-hitting batter Asif Ali at the backend with a nine-ball 17, laced up with two boundaries.

United captain Shadab led the bowling attack for his side with 2/28 in his four overs, followed by Naseem Shah and Salman Ali Agha, who made one scalp each.

READ: Multan Sultans announce Ihsanullah’s replacement for PSL 9

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