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February 17, 2017



Billings sizzles as United tame Gladiators

SHARJAH: Sam Billings on Wednesday night gave his embattled team — Islamabad United – some reason to cheer about when he floored previously unbeaten Quetta Gladiators with a stunning knock in an HBL Pakistan Super League encounter.

Reeling in the aftermath of a corruption scandal that resulted in two of their key players — Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif — getting suspended from the T20 league, United were guided to a five-wicket win over the Gladiators by Billings.

The fast-improving Englishman hammered an unbeaten 78 as United chased down a modest victory target of 149 with five balls to spare.

Things could have been much tougher for the defending champions but Billings made sure that Islamabad will record their second win of the tournament.

The big-hitting opener helped Islamabad neutralise Quetta Gladiators’ spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Hasan Khan. In the first game of this season’s PSL at the Sharjah Stadium, the 25-year-old Billings combined clean timing with explosive power-hitting to keep his side on course throughout the chase.

Quetta had earlier managed a slightly under-par 148, thanks to a disciplined bowling display from Misbah-ul-Haq’s men. It centred around 18-year old legspinner Shadab Khan, who was extremely difficult to read as he spun the ball sharply both ways. Each of the bowlers bowled according to their strengths; Mohammad Sami consistently found the inswinging yorker — one of which accounted for Kevin Pietersen’s second successive golden duck — and Shane Watson’s short deliveries and pace variations were just as hard to dispatch as they have been all tournament.

Earlier, Asad Shafiq (45) helped Gladiators to recover from the loss of their top stars Ahmed Shehzad (26) Kevin Pietersen (0) off successive deliveries in the fifth over.

Once Shafiq was dismissed in the 16th over, Mahmudullah (29 not out) and Perera (27) gave some respectability to their team’s total on what was quite a batting wicket.

This result means both Quetta and Islamabad now have two wins from three games. They occupy second and third position respectively on four points each, with Quetta ahead on net run rate.

Meanwhile, Billings is looking to bring even more improvement to his game.

“It’s another experience as well. Last year, I went to the IPL and it’s a big experience,” he said after the match. “I got my first chance in the PSL last year and also played in the Big Bash too, it’s fantastic.

“I get to play in different conditions and different cultures, soak its life experiences up as valuable. That makes me a better player, so it’s great to be here,” said Billings, who also featured for England in the recent limited-overs series in India.

“Without doubt, playing in different conditions, I am definitely a different player. Hopefully I am a bit better player than I was this time last year and it’s a great experience playing under different kinds of pressures. Obviously it’s a domestic tournament but actually it’s the closest thing to playing international cricket.”

Score Board

Islamabad United won toss

Quetta Gladiators

Asad Shafiq b Watson         45

Ahmed Shehzad c Zohaib b Sami    26

K P Pietersen lbw b Sami     0

R R Rossouw c Rumman b Watson  7

*†Sarfraz Ahmed c Haddin b Rumman       12

Mahmudullah not out 29

N L T C Perera run out        27

Extras (w 2)   2

Total (6 wickets; 20 overs)  148

Did not bat: Hasan Khan, Anwar Ali, M Nawaz (3), Umar Gul

Fall: 1-35, 2-35, 3-66, 4-85, 5-102, 6-148

Bowling: Irfan 4-0-37-0; Sami 4-0-28-2 (1w); Rumman 4-0-29-1 (1w); Shadab 4-0-19-0; Watson 3-0-22-2; Zohaib 1-0-13-0

Islamabad United

D R Smith b Nawaz   10

S W Billings not out   78

†B J Haddin c Sarfraz b Nawaz       6

*Misbah-ul-Haq lbw b Hasan 10

S R Watson c Hasan b Perera         36

Asif Ali c Pietersen b Umar   1

Shadab Khan not out 0

Extras (b 5, lb 1, w 2)         8

Total (5 wickets; 19.1 overs)         149

Did not bat: M Sami, M Irfan, Rumman Raees, Zohaib Khan

Fall: 1-39, 2-53, 3-72, 4-135, 5-145

Bowling: Anwar 4-0-27-0 (2w); Umar 4-0-34-1; Perera 3.1-0-40-1; Nawaz (3) 4-0-18-2; Hasan 4-0-24-1

Result: Islamabad United won by 5 wickets

Points: Islamabad United 2, Quetta
Gladiators 0

Man of the Match: S W Billings (Islamabad United)

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and R K Illingworth (England). TV umpire: Shozab Raza (Pakistan). Match referee: R S Mahanama (Sri Lanka)


Medals Table

Teams M       W       L        T        N/R     Pts

PZ      3        2        1        0        0        4

QG      3        2        1        0        0        4

IU       3        2        1        0        0        4

LQ      3        1        2        0        0        2

KK      2        0        2        0        0        0