Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
SL v AUS (1)
SA-W in ENG (1)
NAM T20 (1)
SIN v MAL (1)
Multan Sultans 222 for 3 (Rizwan 82, David 51, Malik 1-17) beat Peshawar Zalmi 165 for 8 (Cutting 52*, Zazai 43, Tahir 3-25, Dahani 3-41) by 57 runs
The last few days have seen the six PSL teams split down the middle, and this was another instance of the top three pulling away. Multan Sultans made it five wins in five with a demolition of Peshawar Zalmi, amassing 222 batting first. There was yet another masterclass from Mohammad Rizwan, who struck a classy 53-ball 82, and yet another knock of brute force from Tim David, who bludgeoned an unbeaten 51 off 19 balls to rocket his side to the second-highest score of the tournament. The scoreboard pressure meant Zalmi were never really in the chase, and as the asking rate climbed in the middle overs, Wahab Riaz's side imploded. Almost invariably, Imran Tahir sliced through Zalmi in the middle overs, his three wickets helping keep Zalmi to 165 and inflict a 57-run defeat.
Wahab had said he might bat first after winning the toss, but put in that position, he opted to insert Sultans in. Four of the first six overs saw two boundaries scored each as Shan Masood and Rizwan powered their side to 61 by the end of the powerplay. When Shoaib Malik finally had Masood carve to backward point, Sultans had built the perfect platform with 85 in nine overs. It gave the incoming batters the freedom to attack from the get-go, but Sohaib Maqsood's little cameo was only a warm-up act for what David was about to unleash.
A six and a four off the first two balls set the tempo, and when he mauled Wahab into the sightscreen, forcing the bowler to go around the wicket, the skies were darkening around the men in yellow. Rizwan was now the support act, and within a blink, David had surged to 50 off 18 balls, the joint-fastest in this year's PSL. Even Rizwan's dismissal in the penultimate over brought little respite to Zalmi as Khushdil Shah took Wahab to the cleaners with three successive sixes in the 20th over as Sultans smashed 127 in the last nine overs.
For the briefest time - the first five overs to be specific - it appeared we might have the semblance of a game on as Hazratullah Zazai and Haider Ali got off to a brisk start. Shahnawaz Dahani - who had a splendid comeback game after being dropped earlier in the season - struck early to remove Kamran Akmal. But Haider Ali took a shine to Anwar Ali, smacking 17 off his second over. He even targeted Dahani with a couple of blows but last year's leading wicket-taker had the last laugh, getting his outside edge as he attempted an uppercut. Despite 55 runs after five overs, the two wickets meant Sultans had had the better of the opening stages.
The runs dried up through the following overs as Tahir and Abbas Afridi applied the brakes, and like a boa constrictor, Sultans were squeezing the life out of the opponent. That made Zalmi frantic, and in that chaos, Tahir invariably shone. Malik holed out to long-on before Tahir got two off successive balls in the following over, sending Sherfane Rutherford and, more importantly, Zazai with some beautiful variations of flight.
It was left to Ben Cutting to restore some measure of respectability to the scoreline, in addition to getting his form back. A nasty blow to the head by Dahani was followed up by smashing his last three legal deliveries for six, ruining his figures as he surged towards a 29-ball half-century. But to claim that as a positive for Zalmi would be to clutch at straws on a night when the side from Peshawar was little more than fodder for the Multan juggernaut.
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