Crescent Kashmir

HBL Pakistan Super League: Ihsan, Rossouw power Sultans to crushing win over Gladiators

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MULTAN: Ihsanullah was unstoppable, the Multan Sultans were irresistible; the 2021 champions cruising to a comfortable nine-wicket victory to open their account in this season’s HBL Pakistan Super League and showing that Quetta Gladiators have work to do.

Since clinching their maiden PSL title in 2019, the Gladiators have failed to reach the playoffs in each of the last three editions and the manner of the Sultans’ dominance at the Multan Cricket Stadium showed that they have to regroup if they are to recapture the spirit of the side that finished in the top four in each of the first four editions of the T20 extravaganza.

The Sultans, losing finalists in the last edition, are on a different level. And after two close finishes in the first two matches of the season — defending champions Lahore Qalandars edging the Sultans by a run in the opener in Multan and Peshawar Zalmi prevailing by two runs over Karachi Kings in Karachi, this was a romp.

Ihsan’s 5-12 helped the Sultans bundle out the Gladiators for 110 before they chased down the target with 6.3 overs to spare with Rilee Rossouw smashing an unbeaten 78 off 42 balls and finishing the game with consecutive sixes.

“The way we planned, we bowled exactly in that manner,” an elated Rizwan said at the post-match ceremony. “Then the way Rossouw started and finished was brilliant.”

Ihsan had showed his pace and guile in Monday’s defeat to Qalandars but the Gladiators had no answer to the 20-year-old after being sent into bat as the Sultans dismissed them with seven balls to spare. The performance will give the Sultans heart after they lost Shahnawaz Dahani to a finger injury for the rest of the campaign.

“Today the ball was zipping through on the wicket and I tried bowling where the coaches told me to,” man-of-the-match Ihsan said at the presentation ceremony.

It was Sameen Gul, though, who made the first breakthrough, getting Martin Guptill caught at mid-on with the fifth ball of the second over.

IHSANULLAH celebrates dismissing Quetta Gladiators’ batter Iftikhar Ahmed.—AFP
Guptill’s dismissal saw Jason Roy launch a brief counterattack, smashing Akeal Hossein for a four and a six in the third over before getting two boundaries off Sameen in the following over.

But the respite for the Gladiators was brief and Roy lost two of his partners in quick succession; Abdul Wahid Bangalzai chipping Abbas Afridi to mid-on and then captain Sarfraz Ahmed being cleaned up by Ihsan.

Roy would become Ihsan’s second victim as he tried to go after the fast bowler but only succeeded in finding David Miller at mid-off. Ihsan then got two in two as he rapped the pads of the dangerous Iftikhar Ahmed, fresh from hitting Peshawar Zalmi’s Wahab Riaz for six sixes in an over in an exhibition match last Sunday, and got a lbw decision in his favour.

Mohammad Nawaz (14) blocked the hat-trick ball and alongside Umar Akmal (11) dragged the Gladiators from 46-5 to 66-5 before both batters perished on the same score in the space of two deliveries. First spinner Usama Mir got Nawaz lbw with the last ball of the 12th over and then Ihsan had Umar caught behind on the first ball of the 13th.

Three balls later Ihsan hit Naseem Shah’s off-stump and the Gladiators looked destined to register a score beyond 100 only for Mohammad Hasnain and the veteran Mohammad Hafeez register an innings-high 31-run partnership.

In his 22, Hasnain hit two fours and a towering six off Sameen. But the pacer hit back immediately after being hit when he had Hasnain caught behind to reduce the Gladiators to 99-9.

Hafeez (18) ensured his side cross the hundred-run mark and then launched a four and six off Abbas before edging the pacer to wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan on the penultimate ball of the 19th over.

The Gladiators found early joy as they returned to defend their total with Nuwan Thusara getting a close lbw in his favour against Sultans opener Shan Masood in the second over. But from then on, it was all Sultans.

Rossouw cracked four successive boundaries of the first four deliveries as Thusara returned to bowl the fourth over and his skipper Rizwan (28 not out) got his first boundary in the following over off Hasnain. Rossouw then helped himself to two boundaries the sixth over by Hafeez as the Sultans finished the powerplay at 45-1.

The Gladiators found some respite from running to the fetch the ball from the ropes for 16 deliveries before Rossouw found the fence off Nawaz and then Rizwan got his second and final boundary off Hasnain in the next over.

Rizwan was reduced to the role of onlooker as Rossouw completed the victory charge. The South African smoked Hasnain for a six over long-on on the first ball of the 11th over and then got two more boundaries off the pacer. Then came the two sixes off Nawaz to finish the contest; the first over deep backward square leg and the second straight over the bowlers’ head.

“We could not start well,” rued Sarfraz after seeing his side outclassed in all departments. “In the first 10 overs, we could not get going. We should give credit to the way they bowled. Hopefully we can bounce back in the matches that remain. We have plenty of pace but if we don’t bowl in the right areas, we will not be able to pick wickets.”



Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Jason Roy c Miller b Ihsanullah 27 18 3 1 150.00

Martin Guptill c Pollard b Sameen 7 6 1 0 116.66

Abdul Bangalzai c Pollard b Abbas 1 6 0 0 16.66

Sarfraz Ahmed b Ihsanullah 2 7 0 0 28.57

Umar Akmal c Rizwan b Ihsanullah 11 17 1 0 64.70

Iftikhar Ahmed lbw b Ihsanullah 0 1 0 0 0.00

Mohammad Nawaz lbw b Usama 14 18 2 0 77.77

Mohammad Hafeez c Rizwan b Abbas 18 15 1 1 120.00

Naseem Shah b Ihsanullah 1 2 0 0 50.00

Mohammad Hasnain c Rizwan b Sameen 22 20 2 1 110.00

Nuwan Thushara not out 0 3 0 0 0.00

EXTRAS (LB-1, W-6) 7

TOTAL (all out, 18.5 overs) 110

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-10 (Guptill), 2-33 (Bangalzai), 3-37 (Sarfaraz), 4-46 (Roy), 5-46 (Iftikhar), 6-66 (Nawaz), 7-66 (Umar), 8-68 (Naseem), 9-99 (Hasnain)

BOWLING: Hosein 4-0-31-0, Sameen 3-0-20-2 (2w), Abbas 3.5-0-27-2 (2w), Ihsanullah 4-1-12-5 (1w), Usama 4-0-19-1 (1w)


Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Shan Masood lbw b Thushara 3 5 0 0 60.00

Mohammad Rizwan not out 28 29 2 0 72.41

Rilee Rossouw not out 78 38 9 1 171.05


TOTAL (for one wicket, 13.3 overs) 111

DID NOT BAT: David Miller, Kieron Pollard, Khushdil Shah, Akeal Hosein, Usama Mir, Sameen Gul, Abbas Afridi, Ihsanullah


BOWLING: Naseem 2-0-6-0, Thushara 2-0-21-1, Hasnain 3-0-29-0, Hafeez 2-0-15-0, Nawaz 2.3-0-28-0, Iftikhar 2-0-10-0

RESULT: Multan Sultans won by nine wickets.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2023


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