Khawaja Slams Ton in Record PSL Total by Islamabad United
On 17 June, Islamabad United led by stand-in skipper Usman Khawaja faced Peshawar Zalmi in a league match of the PSL 2021. Batting first, United reached 247 for 2, the highest ever total in the PSL. Khawaja led the way with 105 from 56 balls. In the process, Islamabad broke their own previous record of 238 for 3 for the highest total in the PSL, which they had set in 2019 against Lahore Qalandars. However, Zalmi came close to upsetting United’s applecart by scoring 232 for 6 in reply, in which Shoaib Malik (68) and Kamran Akmal (53) were the main contributors.
Khawaja, Munro, Ali, King Go Ballistic
Khawaja and Munro shared a 98-run stand for the first wicket, before Munro (48 runs from 28 balls) got out two short of what would have been his third fifty in four innings. United took a calculated risk by promoting Asif Ali up the order to accelerate. Ali obliged by smacking five sixes and two fours in a 14-ball knock of 43, before Brandon King joined the party with an innings of 46 from 22 balls. Khawaja, who was born in Islamabad, needed 16 runs to reach his hundred at the start of the last over. He hit the first ball for four and reached his ton with sixes off the next two balls. When his innings ended, the Australia veteran had three sixes and 13 fours.
Zalmi’s Spirited Effort in Vain
In reply, Peshawar began badly, losing Hazratullah Zazai’s wicket on the first delivery, before Akmal and Malik got together in a rescue act. Hasan Ali played a hand in United’s win by dismissing Malik in the 17th over. Cameos by Sherfane Rutherford (29), Wahab Riaz (28) and Umaid Asif (20) kept Zalmi in the hunt until the very end. But a brilliant 20th over by United’s young pace bowler Akif Javed denied Zalmi as they could only score seven runs from it.
Net Run Rate Helped Zalmi Leapfrog Qalandars into Play Offs
The match had little more than academic interest for United who had already qualified for the playoffs. But it was a crucial game for Zalmi as a win would have ensured them a top two spot on the points table. As it transpired, Zalmi did qualify for the playoffs despite losing the game to Islamabad United on the night. However, Zalmi’s qualification came at the cost of Lahore Qalandars who lost to Karachi Kings, leaving Zalmi, Kings and Qalandars tied on points. A superior net run rate helped Kings and Zalmi to leapfrog Qalandars into the playoffs.
Khawaja Addresses Media
Addressing the media after United’s match versus Zalmi, Khawaja said, “It was enjoyable to bat 20 overs. I’m not trying to take anything away from our bowlers because they put in a great effort, but Shadab (Khan) was resting. We knew we were probably going in one short on pace.”
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