Munro and Ashraf shine as Islamabad United secures playoff spot

The Gladiators are on the verge of going home for the fourth time in a row after finishing last over.

espncricinfo Islamabad United's victory was made possible by Colin Munro's 63-yard blast off just 29 deliveries.

Islamabad United defeated Quetta Gladiators by two wickets in a high-scoring match, giving them a playoff berth. The game’s star, Colin Munro, scored 63 runs in just 29 balls to help United triumph. The half-centuries from Mohammad Nawaz and Najibullah Zadran helped the Quetta Gladiators rebound well despite a terrible start. Nevertheless, it was insufficient to stop United, who displayed class in a seesaw match in which both sides traded blows. United’s eighth appearance in the final four in eight seasons was assured with this victory.

Although Islamabad United blazed away in characteristic fashion, the fall of wickets brought the Quetta Gladiators back into the contest. The situation was salvaged by the valuable partnership between Azam Khan and Faheem Ashraf, who batted with composure and aggression to take the game away from the Gladiators. Ashraf finished off the game with three balls to spare, scoring an unbeaten 39 off just 22 balls. The match saw some brilliant performances from both teams, with United displaying their depth in batting and bowling, and the Quetta Gladiators showcasing their resilience in difficult circumstances.

The victory will offer Islamabad United a tremendous confidence boost as they prepare to enter the playoffs. When the tournament gets down to the wire, Islamabad United will be a power to be reckoned with thanks to players like Munro, Ashraf, Hasan Ali, and Shadab Khan being among their ranks. The Gladiators, on the other hand, will be disappointed with the defeat, particularly given the way they rallied during the game. However, if they can win their remaining games and have players like Umar Akmal, Nawaz, and Zadran in their lineup, they will still have a shot to advance to the playoffs.

The Quetta Gladiators were sent in to bat by United, and the opposition team immediately put them under pressure. United’s Fazalhaq Farooqi delivered an impressive performance, taking wickets in each of his first two overs to dismiss Will Smeed and Yasir Khan. Adding to the Gladiators’ woes was Mubasir Khan’s sensational boundary catch that saw Sarfaraz Ahmed walking back to the pavilion. Ashraf joined the party and quickly sent Iftikhar Ahmed packing. The team were struggling at 17 for 4 in the sixth over, and the situation was not looking promising for them.

United’s disciplined bowling and excellent fielding had put the Quetta Gladiators on the back foot right from the start. The early wickets were a huge blow to the Gladiators, and they were finding it tough to score runs. The situation was further compounded by the fact that the Islamabad United bowlers did not give away any easy runs, making it challenging for the Gladiators to build any momentum. The pressure was intense, and the Quetta Gladiators were in dire need of a partnership to recover from their early losses. However, United’s strong bowling attack and tight fielding ensured that the Gladiators were unable to get back on track.

Putting together a 104-run partnership, Nawaz and Zadran spearheaded a comeback, rescuing their team from a losing position. They might have taken a cue from the Lahore Qalandars and refused to regroup after dropping early wickets, attacking the bowlers even though it increased the likelihood of losing wickets. They were repaid for their daring strategy, and the run rate gradually increased after only a short while. Nawaz had just reached his fifty when Farooqi removed him, and the Gladiators were poised for a strong finish with four over remaining.
Umar Akmal is now present. Do you recall him? The former Pakistani batsman struck an unbeaten 43 and five sixes in just 14 balls, putting the Quetta Gladiators on 58 runs.

Despite Mohammad Nawaz’s impressive half-century, it was not enough to secure a win for PCBUnited as Colin Munro led the charge with a dazzling performance in the powerplay. The chase started with a wicket off the second ball but Munro quickly put the team on the back foot with 18 runs in the second over. As the innings progressed, Munro continued to rack up the runs with a total of 63 coming off his bat out of the staggering 96 runs scored by the end of the seventh over. Despite a valiant effort from the Quetta Gladiators, they were unable to contain United’s formidable batting lineup.

In the middle of United’s chase, they found themselves in a precarious position. Shadab Khan was caught out by Iftikhar before Mohammad Nawaz got rid of the dangerous Colin Munro. Mubasir Khan followed soon after, falling to Umaid Asif’s delivery, and Asif Ali became Nawaz’s second victim, leaving Islamabad United with just four wickets in hand and still needing 69 runs from nine overs. However, just like their previous game, Faheem Ashraf and Azam Khan held their nerve and put on a crucial partnership. Despite the pressure, they played sensibly and cautiously, taking their time to consolidate and not succumbing to United’s usual aggressive style of play. Azam took 17 balls to hit his first boundary, and it wasn’t until the final three overs that United required 31 runs to win.

When Azam Khan and Faheem Ashraf came together, Islamabad United was in a tight spot, needing 69 runs from nine overs with just four wickets in hand. Azam took his time to settle in and played the role of a consolidator, hitting his first boundary off his 17th delivery. Ashraf was also patient, and the pair took the game deep, knowing that they needed to consolidate to secure the win. They brought the asking rate down and put United on the cusp of victory.  Azam then exploded into action, hitting Naveen-ul-Haq for a four and a six before smashing Umaid Asif for another six, nearly bringing the required rate to a halt. Although he got out on the next ball, Hasan Ali fell soon after, leaving Ashraf needing nine runs off the last over. The experienced all-rounder made it look easy, hitting three boundaries off Odean Smith’s bowling to secure United’s victory and leave Quetta team on the verge of their fourth straight elimination.


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