Haris, bowlers deny United qualifier spot as Zalmi seal thrilling win

RAWALPINDI: Mohammad Haris played a superb 79-run knock before a combined bowling effort propelled Peshawar Zalmi to a thrilling 13-run win over Islamabad United on Sunday to confirm the qualifiers spot for Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League season 8.  

Set to chase a respectable 180, Islamabad United were bundled out for 166 in the final over, losing the opportunity to end the league stage of the tournament ahead of second-placed Sultans, who are equal on points but with a slightly better run rate.

United put on a dismal show with the bat after their bowlers restricted Peshawar to 179/8 despite Mohammad Haris’ blistering 79 from 39 balls at the top.

Faheem Ashraf, on the other hand, played a brilliant cameo of 38 from 13 and kept United’s hopes on tenterhooks till the final over, however, he failed to sail his team through as pacer Khurram Shahzad cleaned him up on the third ball.

United underwent an unwanted start to their chase as opener Hasan Nawaz was dismissed on a duck off Shahzad’s first over.

Alex Hales, Sohaib Maqsood and Colin Munro chipped in with brief innings as Zalmi continued to find breakthroughs at regular intervals.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Shadab, however, held the fort in the middle overs with individual knocks of 33 and 25, respectively before James Neesham and spinner Sufiyan Muqeem ran through the middle order.

Muqeem removed Shadab before making back-to-back strikes in the 16th over, dismissing Asif Ali (5) and Hasan Ali (0).

Faheem led a counterattack in the last five overs and smashed four maximums and two fours to keep United in contention but Shahzad made sure the left-hander would not repeat a similar heroic finish that he had done against Multan Sultans earlier this week. The pacer then castled down tailender Fazalhaq Farooqi on the very next ball to bring the curtains down for United.

Shahzad and Muqeem grabbed three wickets each while Neesham and Aamer Jamal took two wickets apiece.

Earlier, Haris and Bhanuka Rajapaksa gathered a superb 115-run partnership to put Zalmi in command in the first half of the innings before Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali came back strongly and unsettled the batting side.

Shadab got rid of both Rajapaksa and Haris before Hasan Ali took three quick wickets to reduce Zalmi to 161/8 inside 17 overs from a comfortable position of 116/1 in 10 overs.

Electing to field first, United earned the breakthrough in the very first over through pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi who dismissed youngster Sam Ayub on a duck.

Haris, however, wrested the momentum back from United’s grip along with Rajapaksa as Zalmi raised 69 for the loss of one in the powerplay.

The right-hander took 26 balls to complete his fifty while Rajapaksa chipped in with a controlled knock of 25-ball 41 before Shadab sent him back in the hut.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who stood in as Zalmi captain in the absence of Babar Azam, could not create a major impact with an additional burden on his shoulder as he fell prey to Faheem Ashraf in the 12th over on a paltry 12 from 5 balls.

Shadab handed Zalmi the most fatal blow in the next over when he perished strong-looking Haris with Hasan grabbing the catch at long-on

Haris’ dismissal triggered the panic button for Zalmi which saw the next four wickets falling in quick succession for the addition of mere 21 runs between the 14th and 17th over.

Hasan Ali opened his account with a big wicket of James Neesham (1) before dismissing Aamer Jamal (9) and Mujeeb ur Rehman (2) in the same over.

Amid Hasan’s phenomenal spell, Mohammad Wasim cleaned up Haseebullah Khan to register his name to the wickets column.