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March 8, 2018

Qalandars losing streak continues as United win by 6 wickets


Thu, Mar, 18

DUBAI: Luke Ronchi hammered what seems like the last nail in Lahore Qalandars’ coffin when he smashed a match-winning 77 to shepherd Islamabad United to an authoritative six-wicket victory in the HBL Pakistan Super League here at the Dubai International Stadium.

Once again Lahore, who succumbed to their sixth consecutive defeat in the contest, had their moments but never capitalised on the momentum provided to them by openers Anton Devcich (62), playing for the first time this season, and Fakhar Zaman (34).

The Qalandars, who at one point in time looked set to reach somewhere in the vicinity of 180-190, had to settle for 163-8 in the must-win match.

On a batting-friendly wicket, that total turned out to be too low.

With Ronchi in full flow, Lahore fell at least 30-40 runs short as Islamabad just raced to a comfortable win with 14 balls to spare.

The 36-year-old New Zealander was in his element as he hit boundaries almost at will to make a mockery of the Lahore attack. He hit the joint fastest 50 in PSL history (22 balls) before falling to Sunil Narine for 77 that included six sixes and five fours.

Ronchi put on 47 for the first wicket with JP Duminy (21 off 17 balls) and then sealed the fate of the match with an 87-run stand with Shadab Khan, who was promoted up the order by captain Misbah-ul-Haq. The young Shadab didn’t disappoint as he hit 32 from 24 balls with the help of three sixes.

But the real hero for Islamabad was Ronchi.

His strokeplay was immaculate and the timing perfect.

Earlier, Lahore got off to a flying start after being put into bat by Misbah on a wicket where the ball was coming on to the bat. Lahore dropped their underperforming batsman Umar Akmal, who has been one of the biggest disappointments of PSL 3.

Brought in for the first time, Devcich made his presence felt as he hit a 42-ball 62 punctuated with four fours and three sixes. He added 56 with Fakhar Zaman and 45 with Agha Salman.

At 101-1 in 11.1 overs, Lahore were looking on course for a big total. But the surprise decision to promote Dinesh Ramdin put brakes to the Lahore innings. Ramdin was clueless in front of a potent Islamabad attack and could just manage 9 off 20 balls.

Skipper Brendon McCullum tried to lift the innings with an entertaining cameo of 33 off 12 balls but it was a case of too little too late.

Lahore could add just 62 from the last 9 overs. Their last six wickets fetched just 47. Faheem Ashraf was the pick of the Islamabad bowlers with impressive figures of 3-32.

Islamabad have moved to the second spot on the points-table while Lahore are barely alive in the competition after their sixth straight loss.