Vaibhav Tripathi ∙ Mar 16 2023, 6:34 PM

PSL 2023: Babar Azam, Bowlers Destroy Islamabad to Reach Qualifier 2

image-lfbfio4oAzam Khan's dismissal was a turning point in the game. (Twitter)

In an all-important eliminator, Babar Azam-led Peshawar Zalmi outclassed Shadab Khan-led Islamabad United by 12 runs to eliminate them and progress to Qualifier 2, where they'll play defending champions Lahore Qalandars.

Islamabad fought back after Babar's fifty

The in-form opening pair of Babar Azam and Saim Ayub came out all guns firing. Both added 60 runs inside five overs, but then the latter was dismissed by Mohammad Wasim Jr. Babar kept the foot on the pedal and despite losing his partner, he kept on attacking the bowler as Zalmi racked up 77 in the first six overs. 

Babar brought up his sixth 50-plus score in PSL 2023 off just 28 balls. With this kind of start, Peshawar were looking at another total of 200 plus in an all-important game, but Islamabad skipper Shadab Khan broke the partnership by getting young Haseebullah stumped. 

With Zalmi still going at well over 10 an over though, a mammoth score was always on the cards with well-set Babar batting out there. Then came Shadab and trapped Babar plumb in front to trigger Peshawar's collapse, bringing an end to his brilliant innings of 64 off just 39 deliveries. 

After Babar’s dismissal, wickets fell at regular intervals and in the five overs, Islamabad bowlers gave away 35 runs and took four wickets to restrict the strong Peshawar batting to a total of 183. 

Peshawar bowlers trump Islamabad

After restricting Peshawar to a total of below 200, Islamabad shifted the momentum in their court with some terrific display of death bowling by their bowlers. And not it was the time for their batting department to take the onus of chasing down the total. 

To seal the Qualifier 2 berth they were required to chase 184 at a run rate of 9.20 RPO. 

The start wasn't ideal for them as Azmatullah Omarzai landed the first blow in the second over when he dismissed dangerous-looking opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 10. In-walked Shoaib Maqsood, who surprisingly came ahead of Colin Munro, and started playing his shots. In no time he forged a 50-run partnership with Alex Hales. Maqsood was the aggressor in that partnership. 

Post the powerplay carnage, Maqsood slowed down with Peshawar bowlers bowling tight lines to both set batters in the middle overs of the game. Both batters reached their first fifty of the tournament inside 13 overs. The required rate was under control with 9 RPO needed to overhaul the target. 

Then came a twist in the game when Aamer Jamal castled well-set Maqsood in the 15th over. In the next over, Salman Irshad bowled a tailing yorker to inform Azam Khan to dent Islamabad's hopes. Jamal was breathing fire and in the 17th over he got the wicket of Alex Hales to push Islamabad back as they slipped to 137/4 in the 17th over. From that point, Islamabad just couldn't get back into the game as Peshawar managed to edge them by 12 runs.

Brief Scores:

Peshawar Zalmi: 183/8 (20 overs)
Babar Azam 64 (39), Mohammad Haris 34 (17)
Shadab Khan 2/40 (4), Mohammad Wasim Jr 1/29 (4)

Islamabad United: 171/6 (20 Overs)
Sohaib Maqsood 60 (48), Alex Hales 57 (37)
Salman Irshad 2/18 (4), Aamer Jamal 2/36 (4)

Peshawar Zalmi won by 12 runs to progress to Qualifier 2.