Islamabad United 149 for 5 (Billings 78*, Nawaz 2-18) beat Quetta Gladiators 148 for 6 (Shafiq 45, Sami 2-18) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In a nutshell
A blistering 78-run knock from Islamabad United opener Sam Billings neutralised Quetta Gladiators' impressive spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Hasan Khan and ensured the defending champions inflicted the season's first defeat upon Quetta. In the first game of this season's PSL at the Sharjah Stadium, the 25-year-old England batsman combined clean timing with explosive power-hitting to keep his side on course throughout the chase.
Quetta had earlier managed a slightly under-par 148, thanks to a disciplined bowling display from Misbah's men. It centred around 18-year old legspinner Shadab Khan, who was extremely difficult to read as he spun the ball sharply both ways. Each of the bowlers bowled according to their strengths; Mohammad Sami consistently found the inswinging yorker - one of which accounted for Kevin Pietersen's second successive golden duck - and Shane Watson's short deliveries and pace variations were just as hard to dispatch as they have been all tournament. Quetta's innings never really took off as wickets fell regularly and the scoring rate stayed below seven for much of the first 15 overs, before a late partnership between Mahmudullah and Thisara Perera took them near 150. It was to be competitive, but not match-winning.
Where the match was won
Quetta's middle-order pairing of Sarfraz Ahmed and Rilee Rossouw - the PSL's top scorer thus far - got them over the line against Karachi in their last game. So when Ahmed Shehzad got off to a quick start with Pietersen and that duo lying in wait, Quetta might have looked set for a total nearer 200. However, they reckoned without a fiery Mohammad Sami having one of his better days. He beat Shehzad for pace, forcing him to pull right down midwicket's throat, before a 146 kph yorker crashed into Pietersen's pads and pinned him lbw.
Shadab and Shane Watson then took charge of the middle overs, strangulating Quetta, and continuing to push the run rate down. In the ten overs that began with Shehzad's dismissal, Quetta managed only 56 runs, and lost four wickets. Powerplays and death overs might make for better talking points, but these middle overs were what handed Islamabad the two points today.
The men that won it
Billings seemed to be batting on a different surface to his fellow team-mates, finding the gaps regularly in the first six overs and clearing the ropes periodically thereafter. It wasn't all guns blazing, either; he was content to show respect where it was due, taking the singles off left-arm spinners Nawaz and Hasan, while unleashing his ire on the pace attack. Perera bore the brunt of Billings' buffeting, going for 40 in 3.1 overs. It was a mark of Billings' dominance that by the end the 17th over of the Islamabad innings, no other batsman had a strike rate above 100. Billings, meanwhile, was coasting along at 150.
The drop v the missed stumping
When Rilee Rossouw was on 5 in the first innings, he charged down the track to the young Shadab, missing the ball completely. Haddin, however, fluffed an easy stumping chance, and must have feared the worst after reprieving the South African. Next over, however, Rossouw holed out to deep midwicket. In contrast, when Watson joined Billings with their side wobbling at 72 for 3, he nicked Mohammad Nawaz behind before he had got off the mark. It popped right out of Sarfraz's hands, and from thereon, Quetta's fate was sealed. The pair combined for what turned out to be a match-winning 63-run partnership, Watson contributing 36 in 27 balls. He, unlike Rossouw, made the opposition pay.
The moment of the match
Hasan, singled out by Moin Khan as the most promising of Quetta's youngsters, might have been on the losing side, but there was a moment the 18-year old is unlikely to forget. He had been bowling a tight line to opposition captain Misbah-ul-Haq, not hesitating to follow him when he attempted to make room. So when Misbah stepped inside the line to sweep the teenager over fine leg for four, Hasan appeared to be under pressure. Two balls later, he bowled a similar delivery, except he had slid it in with the arm. Misbah attempted the same shot, but he was too late. The ball struck him on the thigh and the umpire raised the finger. Hasan, more than 24 years his junior, had out-thought Pakistan's most successful Test captain.
Where they stand
This result means both Quetta and Islamabad now have two wins from three games. They occupy second and third position respectively on four points each, with Quetta ahead on net run rate.