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Islamabad United stun Lahore Qalandars to script triumphant PSL 9 start

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LAHORE: An astounding third-wicket partnership between Shadab Khan and Salman Ali Agha steered Islamabad United to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over holders Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9 opener.

Set to chase 196, the United comfortably chased down the target for the loss of just three wickets and 10 balls to spare, courtesy of Shadab and Agha’s unbeaten half-centuries.

The visitors had a decent start to their run chase and Alex Hales-led opening stand yielded 41 runs.

But Colin Munro’s dismissal in the fifth over halted the flow of runs for the United and Hales, as a result, made desperate attempts to go big until he fell victim to youngster Salman Fayyaz in the eighth over.

He scored 36 off 28 deliveries, laced up with five boundaries and a six.

Agha then joined his skipper Shadab in the middle with the scoreboard reading 62/2 in 7.2 overs.

The pair, unfazed by a slow start, soon took the game away from the hosts with strike rotation and punishing the bad deliveries.

Shadab and Agha added 138 runs for the third wicket and guided the United over the line in the penultimate over when the former heaved Fayyaz for a six over the long-on.

Shadab top-scored for the United with a 41-ball 74 that featured six boundaries and five sixes while Agha made 64 in just 31 balls, hitting seven boundaries and three sixes.

For the Qalandars, Zaman Khan and Fayyaz could pick up a wicket apiece.

Put into bat first, the Qalandars had a flying start to their innings, courtesy of a solid opening partnership between Farhan and Fakhar Zaman.

Farhan dominated the majority of the opening stand, scoring 70 per cent of the runs by scoring boundaries at regular intervals.

Meanwhile, Fakhar, who was finding it hard to keep going, perished in the seventh over after a run-a-ball 13.

But Farhan kept going and dominated the United bowlers and brought up his maiden PSL half-century in just 29 deliveries.

He smashed eight boundaries and a six on his way to a 36-ball 57 before falling victim to Tymal Mills in the 11th over.

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Following his departure, Abdullah Shafique and Rassie van der Dussen took charge of Qalandar’s batting expedition.

The pair made sure to retain the momentum, provided by Sahibzada Farhan, stitching a 73-run partnership for the third wicket which came off just 42 deliveries.

With Shafique and van der Dussen piling runs, the Qalandars appeared in complete control to breach the 200-run barrier but Mills once again provided the breakthrough to the United by castling the former in the 18th over.

Shafique scored 28 off 22 deliveries with the help of three sixes.

Rassie van der Dussen carried his bat all the way through and bolstered the Qalandars’ total at the backend with clean hitting. He remained unbeaten on 71 off just 41 deliveries, hitting four boundaries and three sixes.

Mills led the bowling attack for the United in their PSL 9 campaign opener with 2/45, followed by Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah, who bagged one apiece.

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