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Ronchi, Hales make merry as Islamabad secure playoff spot

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'Bowling in PSL is better than any other league' (4:53)

The Waqar Younis interview (4:53)

Islamabad United 185 for 4 (Ronchi 58, Hales 46, Gul 2-26) beat Multan Sultans 152 (Pollard 73, S Patel 2-11, Butt 2-30) by 33 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In a nutshell

Recent trends continued to prevail in the PSL, with the resurgent Islamabad United turning in their best performance to flatten Multan by 33 runs. Multan, who have now lost their last four, were set to lose by a significantly bigger margin, but were spared humiliation by an innings of ferocious power-hitting by Kieron Pollard. He belted six sixes in a 47-ball 73 to keep Multan in the contest till the last three overs. However, their bowling performance was far too poor, and the batting Powerplay far too disastrous, and Pollard, for all his brilliance, still had too much to do to pull off a magical heist.

Earlier, Luke Ronchi's brilliant form continued, the New Zealand wicketkeeper, timing the ball brilliantly en route a 36-ball 58. He was well supported by Alex Hales, playing his first PSL game, who scored 46, and Hussain Talat (36 off 21), whose form in the PSL will surely be piquing the national selectors' interests by now. The Multan bowlers' lengths were all over the place, with only Umar Gul able to establish any control over the batsmen. The rest of the time, they made hay, revelling in their recent confidence as Multan endured an off-day they could ill-afford.

The horror show continued with the bat, Multan losing Kumar Sangakkara and Saif Badar in the first over to the wily off spin of Samit Patel. Before long, they had been joined in the pavilion by Sohaib Maqsood and Ahmed Shehzad, and Multan were reduced to 20 for 4 chasing 186. The game was essentially over, but Pollard's reputation meant Islamabad were taking nothing for granted. He showed them why with a phenomenal innings, but it was a sign of how wretched the rest of the day had been for Shoaib Malik's side that even then, they fell well short.

Where the match was won

The Islamabad United innings was an unusual one, but that was precisely what made it so splendid. There were no real peaks and troughs as far as the run rate went. They began positively, scoring between 9 and 10 an over, and continued that way right throughout the innings. Changing the bowlers, the end of the Powerplay, the strategic time-out, taking wickets, all these things had no impact on the Islamabad juggernaut, which simply continued to roll along without ever being pegged back. That meant they were odds on to register the highest total in this year's PSL or thereabouts, and with 185, they nearly did exactly that. It might have been to do with an uninspired bowling performance or simply Islamabad's batsmen's brilliant relentlessness, but what was clear is it won them the game.

The men that won it

This is as close as a performance gets to a real team effort, so where the batting is praised, it's only fair the bowlers get their due. Five different bowlers split the wickets among them, none of them being too expensive at the start where the game was wrenched away from Multan. Samit Patel blew the game wide open in the first over, and Mohammad Sami, Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan all pitched in with two wickets each. Even when the bowlers lost their nerve slightly due to the pressure of Pollard's brute force, Misbah was by their side as a calming influence. This is a team playing for each other, and at the moment, a team winning for each other.

Umpiring - brilliant or shocking?

Gul bowled a bouncer down the leg side to Faheem Ashraf in the penultimate over. Faheem pulled at it and Sangakkara appealed for caught behind, which, to his disbelief, was turned down by umpire Rashid Riaz. Meanwhile, Gul spotted the non-striker out of his crease, and threw the ball to run him out. It missed - by some distance, it has to be said - and the batsmen stole an overthrow before Multan could get over their dismay. Replays suggested a huge nick off the glove, with the commentators lambasting a shocking decision. Shortly after, another angle proved conclusively the ball had actually come off the batsmen's elbow, and the commentators, along with millions of fans, were left reaching for their humble pie.

Where they stand

Islamabad go top of the table, and, along with Quetta Gladiators, are guaranteed qualification to the playoffs. Multan are still in the running, but have to rely on Peshawar Zalmi losing at least one of their remaining two games.