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4, 4, 4, 6, 6, 4: Iftikhar Ahmad’s sensational cameo leads Multan to victory

Cricket4, 4, 4, 6, 6, 4: Iftikhar Ahmad's sensational cameo leads Multan to victory

Multan: A perfect Iftimania show by Iftikhar Ahmed and a fighting half-century by skipper Mohammad Rizwan helped Multan Sultans win their third game on the trot in HBL PSL 9, on Wednesday night at Multan Cricket Stadium. The defending champions, Lahore Qalandars, meanwhile lost their third consecutive game in the tournament as Sultans completed the highest successful chase in HBL PSL history at their home ground.

In pursuit of the 167-run chase, Multan Sultans found themselves in early trouble. Shaheen Shah Afridi started with a maiden over, while Zaman Khan eked out the scalp of Dawid Malan for a golden duck in the following over with the magnificent yorker. Shaheen returned to remove the dangerous Reeza Hendricks (9, 7b, 2x4s), who holed out to Fakhar Zaman in extra cover leaving Multan 15-2 in 2.5 overs.

Yasir Khan and Mohammad Rizwan stitched a 38-run third-wicket partnership to bring a semblance of stability to the Multan innings. George Linde struck on the last ball of the eighth over to dismiss Yasir (8, 13b, 1×4), who was stumped trying to hit down the ground.

David Willey walked out to bat at number five and stitched a crucial partnership with Rizwan, putting on a valuable 75 off 51 balls. The Multan skipper took charge against spinners and pacers alike while holding the innings together.

With the required run rate creeping up, Zaman managed the much-needed breakthrough for his team as he dismissed Rizwan (82, 59b, 9x4s, 3x6s), courtesy of a fine catch by Linde at deep midwicket with the scorecard reading 128-4.

The 18th over saw Iftikhar and Willey hitting a boundary and a six respectively before Willey (25, 23b, 1×4, 1×6) was pinned leg-before wicket by Shaheen.

With 21 runs required off the last two overs, Iftikhar went berserk in the 19th over, hitting Zaman left, right and center for five consecutive cracking shots that involved three boundaries and two massive sixes.

Iftikhar finished the game with one over to spare and an unbeaten 11-ball 34 to his name. For Lahore, Shaheen and Zaman bagged two wickets each while Linde struck once.

Earlier, after winning the toss and electing to bat first in their first away game of the HBL PSL 9, Lahore Qalandars copped an early blow. In the second over, the opening batter, Sahibzada Farhan slashed at a back-of-length delivery which induced a sharp edge, taken safely at the second slip by Iftikhar off the bowling of Mohammad Ali.

With a solid start for Multan Sultans, Fakhar Zaman and Rassie van der Dussen took it upon themselves to take the team out of trouble. They attacked Ali, Willey and Shahnawaz Dahani to up the ante and finish the powerplay on a high note with the scorecard reading 49-1. Fakhar looked in his element, smashing two boundaries and as many sixes in the powerplay.

Van der Dussen brought up his second HBL PSL fifty off 34 balls in the 12th over as he hit Abbas Afridi for a boundary towards midwicket. The duo put on a substantial second-wicket partnership of 94 runs off 66 balls before Usama Mir struck to remove the Van der Dussen (54, 37b, 4x4s, 2x6s) off a brilliant ball that pitched outside off and took the edge to end up in Rizwan’s gloves.

Sikandar Raza joined Fakhar in the middle and got off the blocks early after hitting Iftikhar for two boundaries in the 14th over. An over later Fakhar (41, 36b, 2x4s, 2x6s) departed after top-edging a ball to Rizwan off Abbas’ bowling, leaving Lahore 114-3.

Sikandar (23, 16b, 4x4s) looked to keep the run flow intact but he too fell prey to Ali, in the 17th over while trying to clear the long-on boundary.

Jahandad Khan’s nine-ball stay at the crease yielded 16 runs comprising of a solitary towering six, before he was run out after he failed to make his ground at the non-striker’s end.

Carlos Brathwaite (15 not out, 8b, 1×4, 1×6) chipped in with a cameo that helped Qalandars scrape through to a competitive total of 166-5 in the allotted 20 overs. Multan’s pacer Ali picked up two wickets, taking his tally of HBL PSL 9 scalps to eight, while Abbas and Usama dismissed one batter each.

Iftikhar Ahmad's sensational cameo leads Multan to victory
Click on pic to watch Iftikhar Ahmad’s sensational cameo leads Multan to victory

Courtesy: PCB

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