DUBAI - Luke Ronchi's stunning assault at the top of the order backed up Islamabad United's disciplined bowling performance and condemned Lahore Qalandars to a six-wicket defeat, their sixth loss in as many games. Ronchi's 41-ball 77 meant Islamabad chased down a target of 164 with 2.2 overs to spare. This was Islamabad's second victory over a hapless Lahore side this season, the first one having come in a Super-Over finish.

It was a stroll in the park for Islamabad United who hunted down Lahore Qalandars' 163 in 17.4 overs. The six-wicket win takes Islamabad to the second spot in the Pakistan Super League points table. Lahore are still winless this season after six matches.

Ronchi and JP Duminy set the tone for the chase with a 47-run opening stand in 4.3 overs. Sunil Narine received a rude welcome as Ronchi smashed his first delivery for a six, but he hit back two balls later by having Duminy caught at slip. Narine would go on to take two more wickets, including Ronchi's, but it was the latter who had the last laugh. During the course of his innings, which included five fours and six sixes, Ronchi brought out his complete repertoire - the swivel-pull, cut, drive and even the flat-batted smash. When he tonked Aamer Yamin over long-off in the ninth over, he brought up his half-century off 22 balls, the joint-fastest in the PSL. When Ronchi perished in the 16th over, Islamabad needed only 13 to win.

In contrast to their performance for the most part of the match, Lahore had started in rousing fashion with the bat, with Fakhar Zaman and Anton Devcich (62 off 42 balls) raising an opening stand of 56 in 6.4 overs. Zaman led the way in the early exchanges as he biffed, pulled and cut his way to 34 off 24 balls. He was smartly caught behind by Ronchi off Duminy's bowling, but Devcich sustained the momentum. Playing his first game of the tournament, Devcich, much like Fakhar, reveled in leg-side strokes. Often, he cleared his leg and swatted the ball between long-on and deep midwicket.

While overs six to nine brought 37 runs to Lahore, there was a lull in the scoring after Agha Salman was dismissed in the 12th over. With Denesh Ramdin, promoted to No.4, struggling to middle the ball, Devcich found himself under more pressure but couldn't accelerate the tempo. Eventually both the batsmen perished in the 17th over bowled by Faheem Ashraf. Captain Brendon McCullum made a furious late dash with an unbeaten 12-ball 33, but that would eventually prove inadequate. Ashraf picked up three wickets for Islamabad, while legspinner Shadab Khan finished with figures of 4-0-15-1.

Duminy was promoted to the top and he along with the in-form Ronchi got their team off to a flying start. The 47-run partnership was broken in the sixth over by Sunil Narine. However, Ronchi was unperturbed. The New Zealander, who bagged the Man of the Match award in his previous outing, continued to bat aggressively. He notched up his half-ton in just 22 balls - the joint fastest fifty in this edition of the PSL.

In Shadab Khan, who was advanced to number three, Ronchi found the perfect partner. The duo punished the Lahore bowlers and were involved in an 87-run enthralling partnership off just 44 balls, and took the game away from their opponents. Narine picked two more wickets later, including that of Ronchi, but it was too late. The Misbah-led side chased down the total with 14 balls to spare and recorded their third straight win.

Ronchi was named the Player of the Match. He said: “It is going well at the moment and hopefully it continues. I am a quiet person, I just went for it. I enjoy facing spin - Yasir and Narine all these guys. I try to be as instinctive as possible. If I go on with a clear mind, things go well.”

Qalndar’s captain McCullum was totally distraught and vowed to give chance to youngsters from now on as they were out from the play-off race. “We bowled really poorly and pretty disappointed with the bowling performance. We did well with the bat and Devcich was hungry. Young guys might get an opportunity with us out of the contention. Ultimately as captain, you are responsible for the performances. I have done what I have done with other teams as captain but it has not resonated,” he said

United captain Misbah was elated with the comeback of his team in the event. “ Good comeback from the bowlers. In the first ten overs, Lahore were scoring well. It becomes easy with Ronchi playing that way. Shadab has good technique and can bat at No.3. Those are qualities which can make him play anywhere. They were bowling a lot of spin, and he was good at it.”

 

 

Scoreboard

Fakhar Zaman c Ronchi b Duminy 34

A Devcich c Sami b Faheem Ashraf 62

Agha Salman c Farhan b Shadab 8

D Ramdin b Faheem Ashraf 9

B McCullum not out 33

S Narine b Faheem Ashraf 6

Sohail Khan b M Sami 1

Aamer Yamin run out 1

Salman Irshad run out 1

EXTRAS: (lb 1, w 7) 8

TOTAL: (8 wckts; 20 overs) 163

FOW: 1-56, 2-101, 3-121, 4-122, 5-149, 6-150, 7-162, 8-163.

BOWLING: J Duminy 4-0-38-1, S Patel-1-0-10-0, M Sami 4-0-36-1, S Finn 3-0-31-0, Faheem Ashraf 4-0-32-3, Shadab Khan 4-0-15-1.

J Duminy c McCullum b Narine 21

L Ronchi c Aamer Yamin b Narine 77

Shadab Khan c Fakhar b Imran Khan 32

Asif Ali lbw b Narine 7

Misbah-ul-Haq not out 12

Sahibzada Farhan not out 3

EXTRAS: (lb 2, nb 2, w 8) 12

TOTAL: (4 wckts, 17.4 overs) 164

FOW: 1-47, 2-134, 3-145, 4-151.

BOWLING: Fakhar Zaman 2-0-21-0, Sohail Khan 3-0-29-0, Yasir Shah 4-0-26-0, S Narine 4-0-28-3, Imran Khan (1) 2.4-0-24-1, Aamer Yamin 1-0-16-0, Salman Irshad 1-0-18-0.

TOSS: Islamabad United

UMPIRES: Tim Robinson, Aleem Dar

TV UMPIRES: Rashid Riaz

RESERVE UMPIRE: Khalid Mahmood

MATCH REFEREE: Mohammed Anees