Islamabad United 177 for 5 (Talat 37, Asif 36*, Rahat 4-29) beat Lahore Qalandars 171 for 8 (Zaman 65, Faheem 2-24) by five wickets
How the game played out
All the talk of an improved Lahore Qalandars may have something to it, but in the contest between the most prolific franchise and the least successful one, the status quo held firm. A glorious return to form from Fakhar Zaman got Lahore off to the perfect start, and for much of the innings looked destined to set a target around 200.
But a middle-order collapse meant Mohammad Hafeez's side slump from 129 for 1 to 171 for 8, adding just 40 runs in the final six overs. Even so, Rahat Ali looked to have put Lahore on course with three wickets in an over to rip out Islamabad's top order, Luke Ronchi and all. But where Lahore's middle order had fallen apart, Islamabad's held firm.
Hussain Talat, Faheem Ashraf and Asif Ali kept ahead of the run rate during the second half of the innings, and Asif made his move in the 18th over. With two sixes off the first two balls, the run rate had been brought down to six. From there on, the five-wicket win was an inevitability.
In a streak that began in the 13th over, Fakhar Zaman and AB de Villiers added 26 off 6 balls. An onslaught looked imminent, but in the remaining 41 balls, they would score just 44 and lose seven wickets. The late assault didn't come, and the handful of security runs they needed at the end weren't there
A 55-run partnership between Hussain Talat and Cameron Delport was followed by the swift removal of both batsmen, and Islamabad's valiant efforts finally looked doomed. However, just the second ball he faced, Faheem Ashraf carted Carlos Brathwaite over square leg for six. The run rate was back under ten, never to return to double figures again
Star of the day
Fakhar Zaman may have felt he was guaranteed a slot here, returning to form with a magnificent 65. But it was Asif Ali, himself having endured a rough time in international cricket who ensured his contribution would be the most telling. Hitting three sixes in a knock of 36 off 19 in a clutch chase at the end, Asif evoked memories of the PSL final last year when he dug his side out of a tight spot by hitting three consecutive sixes and effectively sealed the win. Carrying on as if this match were an extension of that contest in Karachi, Asif lofted Rahat - the best bowler on the night - for back-to-back sixes, dragging the run rate down from above nine to a run-a-ball. Another six off the next over confirmed his effort would be a match-winning one.
The big miss
24 off 17 isn't a disastrous innings, but it's fair to say the Dubai crowd expected more from AB de Villiers when he turned up at number three. The platform had been perfectly set by the opening stand, and when he and Fakhar took 20 off a Talat over, it seemed de Villiers was warmed up enough to effect carnage. But in a game changing moment, the South African stroked one to the mid-off boundary, looking like it was going for six. Phil Salt judged it brilliantly, timed his leap to perfection, and pulled off a stunner. Who's to say how many runs that saved?
Where the teams stand
This is the first game of the tournament, and both teams move to positions they are familiar with. Islamabad go top, while Lahore prop up the table.