RAWALPINDI: Azam Khan struck a magnificent 72-run knock in the run chase and powered Islamabad United to seal a close six-wicket victory over Karachi Kings in the 19th match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season eight.
Set to chase 202, the United steered to victory in the final over as the side finished at 202/4 at the back of an astounding knock by wicketkeeper batter Azam.
The United were off to a dismal start in the run chase as Mohammad Amir once again struck in his first over to hand Karachi Kings an early breakthrough in the form of Colin Munro’s dismissal, who could score 11 off five.
Following an early blow, Alex Hales joined hands with Rassie van der Dussen and scripted his side’s recovery with a brisk 50-run partnership for the second wicket.
The duo appeared in great touch before Aamer Yamin castled Alex Hales at the brink of the powerplay. He scored a quickfire 34 off just 16 deliveries, laced up with four boundaries and two sixes.
Tabraiz Shamsi castled his compatriot van der Dussen in his first over and powered Kings to halt United to 69/3 in the eighth over.
Following the slump, Azam anchored the run chase with a vital fourth-wicket partnership with Faheem Ashraf and put his side in complete control.
The pair added 125 runs at a quick pace before Faheem perished in the 19th over due to a mix-up while running between the wickets.
The left-handed batter fell short of his half-century by nine runs as he scored 41 off 32 deliveries with the help of a boundary and two sixes.
Meanwhile, Azam carried his bat all the way through before Asif Ali gave the final touches to the pursuit with 10 off just two deliveries in the first two deliveries of the 20th over.
Azam top-scored for the United with a quickfire 72 off a mere 41 balls, smashing a dozen boundaries including four sixes.
For the Kings, Amir, Shamsi and Yamin could pick up a wicket.
Opting to bat first, the Kings piled up a massive total against home side United in the must-win clash at the back of a scintillating 92-run knock by their captain Imad Wasim.
Earlier, the Kings were off to an unwanted start as Sharjeel Khan fell in the third over after managing to score just eight off six deliveries.
With their side rocked with an early setback, Adam Rossington and Tayyab Tahir launched a counter-attack on the United’s bowlers as the pair stitched a brief yet effective partnership for the second wicket; raising 37 runs in just 16 deliveries before the latter’s dismissal.
Tayyab looked to heave Tom Curran’s length delivery but ended up mistiming it straight to Hasan Ali at mid-off and walked back after scoring a brisk 19 off just eight balls.
The Kings were then jolted with a major blow as Rossington (20) and Shoaib Malik (12) departed in quick succession; resulting in the Kings slipping to 78/4 in the ninth over.
With his side losing momentum, Imad stood up for his team and took on the United bowlers with his belligerent hitting all over the park.
The captain put on a terrific 99-run partnership with Irfan Khan Niazi and put his side in complete command to post a big total.
Imad was the core aggressor of the fifth-wicket partnership, while Niazi held his end firm before a spectacular teamwork catch by Hasan and Rassie van der Dussen dropped curtains on his vital 20-ball 30, which featured four boundaries.
Imad continued his onslaught after Niazi’s dismissal and received significant support from Matthew Wade, who scored 13 not out off six deliveries, to power Kings past the 200-run mark.
Imad top-scored for his side with an unbeaten 92 off 54 deliveries, hitting 11 boundaries and two sixes.
Curran led the United’s bowling attack with two wickets but was expensive, while Rumman, Faheem and Hasan struck out a batter each.