Discarded on Wednesday for their lack of form from Pakistan’s squad for Asia Cup and World Twenty20, Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Rizwan took few hours to vented their anger with aggressive knocks in the Pakistan Super League in Sharjah.
The change of venue also changed the fortunes of the PSL, crowd wise as well as runs wise. The 19,000 capacity stadium was near to full as Sharjeel along with Shane Watson made merry of Lahore Qalandar’s 167-run target as Islamabad triumphed by eight wickets with 4.1 overs to spare on a flat Sharjah stadium pitch.
Sharjeel, who made 43-ball with 79 not out and Watson (47-ball 79 with seven sixes and four boundaries) gave a rousing 153-run start to Islamabad as they whipped the lackluster attack, reaching 52 in five and 94 in ten overs. Both Sharjeel and Watson were at their best, hitting the ball out of the stadium on three occasions.
Sharjeel, who played three Twenty20 for Pakistan and was not considered for two major events in Bangladesh and India, smashed seven sixes and five boundaries, two successive off Ehsan Adl to bring up the victory.
Sharjeel brought up his fifty off 26 balls with a six and four off spinner Zohaib Khan – hist first of the PSL and unfortunately a bit late as selectors watched him fail in the first three games.
Lahore was unlucky not to have Watson on one when the Australian skied a Kevin Cooper delivery but Cameroon Delport grassed a fairly each chance with the batsman on only one. That lapse cost Lahore dearly as Watson and Sharjeel went berserk.
Watson was also dropped by Zohaib Khan at long-on boundary off a luckless Cooper in the 12th over but by then the Australian had scored 61. To Cooper’s misfortune 26 came off that over with three sixes and a four.
The rampage finally came to an end when the target was achieved in the 16th over for Islamabad’s second win in four matches. Lahore now face elimination with three defeats in four matches and needed to win their fifth match against Karachi on Friday.
Rizwan also reminded the selectors of his potential with a whirlwind half-century off just 27 balls in Lahore’s total of 166-6 after they were sent into bat.
The wicket-keeper batsman played a rapidfire innings on the day when selectors axed him for the Asia Cup (February) and World Twenty20 (March), hitting three sixes and five boundaries to anchor the innings which also had contributions from Dwayne Bravo (26), Azhar (27), Naved yasin (25) and Umar Akmal (23).
Lahore had a disastrous start when Cameroon Delport was dismissed in the third over for three but Ali and Umar took them to 46. Umar and Yasin then added 41 for third wicket but both fell in quick succession.
Rizwan then lifted the tempo with some big hitting, adding 60 for the fifth wicket with Bravo. One of his sixes off Rumman Raees (inducted in the Pakistan team for the first time) went out of the stadium.
Mohammad Sami was the pick of bowlers with 2-21 in his three overs.
Karachi meet Peshawar and Islamabad face off with Quetta in a double-header on Thursday.