DUBAI - Islamabad United are beginning to get that 2016 feeling all over again. After having made a shaky start to this year's campaign, they have been building momentum steadily. Friday's hapless opponents, Peshawar Zalmi, were crushed by 26 runs. It could well be the day when Islamabad's train became a juggernaut. With the game long gone, Wahab Riaz and Umaid Asif strung together a 55-run ninth-wicket stand to reduce the margin of defeat.

A splendid unbeaten 73 by JP Duminy laid the foundation for the hammering, with Asif Ali's blazing 45 at the end taking Islamabad to within one run of the tournament's highest score. Peshawar had, in truth, bowled poorly; no one except Wahab was able to hit either the yorker or bouncer lengths accurately enough, and the 81 runs Misbah-ul-Haq's men pillaged off the last 37 balls reflected that.

No Peshawar batsman was able to spearhead the innings. It was trial by spin here with eight of the nine wickets falling to spin. Samit Patel, the left-arm spinner, was stellar again. He enjoyed grip and turn off the surface to sort the top order out. But it is Zafar Gohar who could generate excitement in the Pakistan cricket circles. Playing in his first game, he exhibited splendid control and flighting the ball up to some of the most fearsome hitters in the game. He took three wickets to effectively end the contest.

None of Peshawar's top eight managed to score more than 22. Compare that with Islamabad, where Duminy, carried his bat through and took the pressure off the other end. He was supported by cameos from Talat and Luke Ronchi, who scored 29 and 27 respectively. Those scores would've been the second-highest for Peshawar. Throw in the scorching 24-ball 45 from Asif at the end, and it's clear where they won.

Peshawar were 53 for 1 after seven overs. They'd set themselves up nicely, until Samit struck several crippling body blows. Kamran Akmal was trapped plumb in front, before Andre Fletcher and Dwayne Smith fell off successive deliveries to the Englishman to expose Peshawar's middle order sooner than they'd have hpped From there on, the asking rate inexorably went up, which meant they had to take more risks. That resulted in more wickets. Peshawar had been trapped in a vicious circle, and it was Patel who had run rings around them.

Gohar bowled exceptionally well, and was rewarded for it with figures of 3 for 25. At one stage those figures had read 3 for 4. That included a dream ball to Darren Sammy off the second delivery he faced. Flighted nicely, it pitched just outside leg stump, and Sammy closed the face of the bat to flick it to the onside. However, upon bouncing, it gripped and turned so sharply Sammy's bat was barely in the same postcode. The ball went on to clip off stump.

Islamabad go top with 10 points, having one each of their past four games. Peshawar stay fifth, with three wins and four losses.


Islamabad united

J Duminy not out 73
L Ronchi c Dawson b Wahab Riaz 27
Hussain Talat b Wahab Riaz 29
Shadab Khan run out 0
Asif Ali b Wahab Riaz 45
Faheem Ashraf run out 1
EXTRAS: (lb4, w3) 7
TOTAL: (5 wkts; 20 overs) 182
FOW: 1-39, 2-100, 3-100, 4-171, 5-182
BOWLING: Hasan Ali 4-0-35-0, Umaid Asif 4-0-34-0, L Dawson 4-0-36-0, Wahab Riaz 4-0-30-3, Ibtisam Sheikh 3-0-31-0, D Smith 1-0-12-0

peshawar zalmi

Kamran Akmal lbw b Patel 22
A Fletcher c Faheem Ashraf b Patel 19
D Smith b Patel 8
M Hafeez lbw b Zafar Gohar 13
Khushdil Shah c H Talat b Shadab Khan 8
L Dawson b Zafar Gohar 1
D Sammy b Zafar Gohar 0
Hasan Ali c Duminy b Patel 15
Wahab Riaz not out 33
Umaid Asif c Patel b Faheem Ashraf 25
Ibtisam Sheikh not out 0
EXTRAS: (b4, lb3, nb1, w4) 12
TOTAL: (9 wkts; 20 overs) 156
FOW: 1-32, 2-53, 3-53, 4-75, 5-76, 6-76, 7-91, 8-92, 9-147
BOWLING: M Sami 4-0-29-0, S Finn 2-0-23-0, S Patel 4-0-34-4, Faheem Ashraf 2-0-17-1, Shadab Khan 4-0-21-1, Zafar Gohar 4-0-25-3
TOSS: Peshawar Zalmi
UMPIRES: Ahmed Shahab, Aleem Dar
TV UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz
MATCH REFEREE: Roshan Mahanama