The two most successful sides in the PSL showed a packed Karachi crowd exactly why they were on top, with a game that ebbed and flowed and finally settled with a Ben Cutting six over long-off to seal a win for the defending champions. Azam Khan had set up the win with a scintillating 33-ball 59, demonstrating skill that belied his historical record in the PSL, while Mohammad Hasnain put in a Man-of-the-Match performance, figures of 4-0-25-4 ensuring Islamabad United wouldn’t even bat their full 20 overs.
Islamabad set a below par 169 to win for Quetta Gladiators, but that’s not the way it had appeared for the first half of their innings, even if they did lose Colin Munro first ball. The template they execute so successfully was working a dream, with the overseas picks doing their job expertly, Dawid Malan steering the innings with a half century that propelled Islamabad to the 100-mark in the 11th over, ably assisted by the sort of cameo from Luke Ronchi the PSL is so familiar with. But once Ben Cutting came into the attack and began varying the pace intelligently, Islamabad saw the runs dry up and wickets ensued.
Cutting would account for Malan who saw he needed to bear even more of the scoring burden, and when he holed out, the wheels fully came off. The rest of the innings was Islamabad flailing in the face of a bowling attack that had their measure by now, and would wind up their innings five balls short.
They still made a game of it when Muhammad Musa, brilliant at the start, removed Jason Roy in the first over, with Shane Watson and Ahmed Shehzad back in the hut in a Powerplay that Islamabad nailed. But Azam’s brilliance wrestled the game back in favour of the defending champions, and with support from Mohammad Nawaz, they managed to get close enough to the target they could afford a late wobble that required some late generosity from Musa to get them over the line.