Recent Match Report – Gladiators vs United 21st Match 2022/23

Islamabad united Beat 183 for 8 (Munro 63, Ashraf 39*, Umaid 3-37) Quetta Gladiators 179 for 6 (Najibullah 59, Nawaz 52, Farooqi 3-25) by two wickets

Islamabad United beat Quetta Gladiators by two wickets in a see-saw to confirm qualification for the last four for the seventh time in eight seasons. Half-centuries from Mohammad Nawaz and Najibullah Zadran helped Gladiators recover from a horror start to post 179. In response, United fired away in characteristic fashion, even as the resulting fall of wickets brought Gladiators back into the game. But Azam Khan and Faheem Ashraf entered into a valuable partnership, with Ashraf finishing the match with three balls remaining.
United put Gladiators to bat and immediately put them on the back foot. Fazalhaq Farooqi struck in each of his first two overs to remove Will Smeed and Yasir Khan, while a stunning boundary catch by Mubasir Khan disposed of Sarfaraz Ahmed. Iftikhar Ahmed fell to Ashraf soon after, and Gladiators were reduced to 17 for 4 in the sixth over.

Nawaz and Zadran led a recovery effort to form a 104-run partnership that lifted their side. Perhaps learning from Lahore Qalandars, they refused to consolidate after losing early wickets, and went after bowling even though it made losing wickets more likely. They were rewarded for that intrepid approach and within a relatively short time the run rate crept up. When Farooqi got rid of Nawaz, he had scored half a century, and with four overs to go, Gladiators were poised for a big finish.

Enter Umar Akmal. Remember him? In a stunning display of sheer hitting power, the former Pakistani batsman batted five sixes in 14 balls to break an unbeaten 43 meaning Gladiators scored 58 in their final four overs.
United gave chase as you would expect. Although Naseem Shah trapped Rahmanullah Gurbaz for the second ball, Colin Munro shone in the power play. 18 runs from the second over of the innings – bowled by Odean Smith – made his intentions clear. Naseem was treated with more respect when Munro showed restraint, but when Umaid Asif followed with the fourth over, 18 more came out. By the end of the seventh over, a whopping 96 runs had been scored, 63 of them from Munro’s bat.

United wobbled in the passage of play that followed. Shadab Khan holed out to Iftikhar before Nawaz hit the next ball to draw the curtain for the Munro show. Umaid cleared Mubasir as he lashed out at one with little conviction before Nawaz got one that slipped to Asif Ali to suddenly shake the two-time champion.

United still needed 69 from nine overs and were down to four wickets. But just as Faheem and Azam had taken a vital rearguard earlier this week, they seized the opportunity again. Aware that they needed to consolidate – an abomination to United’s apparent philosophy – it was not until his 17th ball that Azam hit his first boundary. Ashraf also bided his time as they took the game to the last three overs, of which United needed 31.

Azam came roaring to life at this point, beating Naveen-ul-Haq for a four and a six, before drawing Umaid for another six to make the demand rate run nearly a ball. He fell the next ball and Hasan Ali hollowed out soon after, leaving Ashraf with nine in the final.

It took him just three balls as Smith missed his length, with United’s experienced all-rounder hitting three fours to get his side through and leaving Gladiators on the brink of their fourth successive elimination.


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