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Afridi, Rizwan heroics in vain as United down Sultans by three wickets

Lewis Gregory pushed himself to an amazing, unbeaten knock of 49 runs of 31 deliveries

Afridi, Rizwan heroics in vain as United down Sultans by three wickets PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

A heroic knock from Mohammad Rizwan and a fiery spell from Shahid Afridi could not deny Lewis Gregory, whose unbeaten 49-run knock powered Islamabad United to a three-wicket victory against Multan Sultans at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday.

Chasing a tricky target of 151 runs, Islamabad United lost opener Phil Salt (13 off 12) early, caught by fielder James Vince off the bowling of Mohammad Umar.

Skipper Shadab Khan promoted himself up the order but the move backfired as the all-rounder departed after scoring just five runs off six balls, caught by fiddler Riley Rossouw off the bowling of pacer Carlos Brathwaite.

Opener Alex Hales had meanwhile gotten Islamabad United off to a fiery start despite the fall of wickets at the other end. Shahid Afridi however broke through the defenses of the hard-hitting batsman after he had scored 29 runs off 20 deliveries.

The legendary all-rounder then turned the game on its head, first removing batsman Asif Ali (nine off nine) and then running out batsman Iftikhar Ahmed (one off four) with a direct hit that pushed the game wide open.

All-rounder Faheem Ashraf came out swinging and combined with fellow all-rounder Lewis Gregory to form a crucial 43-run partnership off 30 balls that brought Islamabad United within reach of chasing down the target.

Pacer Carlos Brathwaite however got the better of Faheem as the all-rounder miscued a delivery to fielder Shahid Afridi, who completed a simple catch, after scoring 22 runs off 12 deliveries.

As Faheem departed, it was clear that Lewis Gregory was the only obstacle that remained between Multan Sultans and victory. The all-rounder rolled up his sleeves and pushed himself to an amazing, unbeaten knock of 49 runs of 31 deliveries to propel his side to a three-wicket victory against the run of play.

Shahid Afridi and Carlos Brathwaite were the pick of the bowlers for the Multan Sultans’ side picking up two wickets each.

Earlier, Multan Sultans’ captain Mohammad Rizwan’s continued his stunning run-of-form with a 71-run knock that propelled his side to a competitive total of 150 runs against Islamabad United during their encounter at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday.

After losing the toss and being asked to bat first, the Sultans lost opener Chris Lynn (one off five) early after edging a ball into the hands of wicketkeeper Phil Salt off the bowling of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.

Batsman James Vince appeared to be in sublime form as he joined opener Mohammad Rizwan in the middle. All-rounder Lewis Gregory however got the better of the hard-hitting batsman, caught by fielder Faheem Ashraf, after scoring just 16 runs off 17 deliveries.

Batsman Rilee Rossouw came out swinging and looked set to propel Multan Sultans to a dominant total. However, all-rounder Shadab Khan had other ideas and forced an ill-advised shot from the power-hitter that landed safely into the hands of fielder Mohammad Wasim. Rossouw managed to score 25 runs off 14 deliveries before making his way back to the pavilion.

Sultans were further jolted by two more wickets in short order. Batsmen Sohaib Maqsood (two off four) and Khushdil Shah (seven off eight) fell trying to lift the scoring rate off the bowling of Mohammad Wasim and Lewis Gregory respectively.

 While wickets continued to fall on the other end, Mohammad Rizwan continued his excellent form in an innings of class and elegance. The wicketkeeper-batsman raced to 71 runs off 53 deliveries before being bowled by fast-bowler Mohammad Wasim.

The youngster then removed all-rounder Shahid Afridi for a golden duck to help his side stem the flow on runs in the ending stages of the Multan Sultans’ innings.

All-rounder Carlos Brathwaite played a useful unbeaten cameo at the end scoring 22 runs off 14 deliveries to propel his side to 150 runs for the loss of eight wickets in their allotted overs.

Mohammad Wasim was the pick of the bowlers for Islamabad United picking up three wickets in four overs at the expense of 29 runs.