Delport, Ashraf star as Islamabad United down Lahore Qalandars

This was the first match of HBL PSL season four in Karachi

Delport, Ashraf star as Islamabad United down Lahore Qalandars PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter/PSL

Opener Cameron Delport and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf starred as Islamabad United defeated Lahore Qalandars by 49 runs, during the ongoing Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League match at the National Stadium in Karachi.

Despite the change in venue, the Qalandars opted for the similar strategy of winning the toss and deciding to bowl first.

After being put into bat, United posted a mammoth 238-3 in their allotted 20 overs, thanks largely to a brilliant century from Cameron Delport.

Qalandars got off to the perfect start with Shaheen Shah Afridi dismissing explosive opener Luke Ronchi on the very first ball of the innings, but everything went pear-shaped after that, as Delport had other ideas.

The opener remained unbeaten on 117 runs off 60 balls — including 13 fours and six maxmums — and smacked the ball to all parts of the ground, aided by small boundaries and a good batting track.

Delport’s innings was the first century by any cricketer in PSL history, on Pakistan soil and also the fastest ton in PSL history — off just 49 balls.

He was ably supported by Asif Ali, at the backend of the innings, with a squash-buckling fifty. He also remained unbeaten on 55 runs off 21 balls.

Although United batted exceedingly well but one can argue that the bowling was not particularly in line with the situation of the game. The bowlers bowled too short or full on numerous occasions and were also guilty of not varying their pace often, in order to make it difficult for batsmen to score runs.   

In response, the Qalandars made a decent start to their innings, with Anton Devcich (18) and Fakhar Zaman (38) leading the way, but their hopes were short-lived as they kept on lost wickets at regular intervals.

Ashraf was the pick of the bowlers for United with remarkable bowling figures of 6-19 — especially considering the flat nature of the pitch — in his four overs.

For Qalandars, middle-order batsman Sohail Akhtar top-scored with 75 runs off 34 balls, with the help of eight fours and five sixes. But his innings merely delayed the inevitable as United cruised to comprehensive victory.

It would be unfair to not mention, a rather comical moment involving United pacer Mohammad Musa — which ensured that the match had a unorthodox but fitting end.   

Musa bowled a Yorker on leg, and the ball has been inside-edged onto his toes. Batsman tried to steal a single since he did not know where the ball was. At this point, Musa picked up the ball up, and tried to whip the bails off (at the batsman's end), but he loses his balance completely and drops the ball. Seeing that, the batsman tried to run again, but this time Musa controls his running, took an aim at the stumps, and got a direct-hit. There was a lot in there, wasn’t it?

Also numerous other records were broken over the course of the match which included the highest PSL score of all time by Islamabad United (238), while this was also the highest ever T20 total in Karachi.

Asif Ali scored the joint-fastest PSL half-century, off just 17 balls. Meanwhile Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled the most expensive spell in PSL history, conceding 62 runs.

For his scintillating hundred, Delport bagged the award for the player of the match.