Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
Islamabad United 137 for no loss (Munro 90*, Khawaja 40*) beat Quetta Gladiators 133 all out (Weatherald 43, Wasim 2-12) by ten wickets
A spellbinding, soul-destroying, record-breaking opening partnership between Usman Khawaja and Colin Munro saw Islamabad United thrash Quetta Gladiators by 10 wickets, polishing off the target of 134 with an eye-watering 10 overs to spare. It included the highest Powerplay total in PSL history as Islamabad ran up 97 in the first six, with Munro bringing up his half-century in 20 balls; He would go on to finish unbeaten on 90 having faced just 36 deliveries.
Indeed, only three times in top-flight franchise T20 cricket has a higher powerplay total been achieved as the Gladiators were left helpless in the face of a genuinely stunning onslaught. It leaves the Gladiators on the brink of crashing out of the tournament.
Aside from the first over of the game, where Hasan Ali sloppily conceded 15, United were on top from start to finish. Akif Javed and Mohammad Wasim kept things tight and made regular inroads, while Mohammad Musa weathered a couple of huge sixes from Andre Russell to come back and dismiss the Gladiators' star man the same over. More worryingly, though, he struck Russell on the head a couple of balls earlier, leading to a lengthy concussion test. Russell would not return to the field all match, and footage later showed him being stretchered to hospital.
On the field, though, the Gladiators continued to lose regular wickets, never quite threatening to pull away from United's bowlers. Jake Weatherald provided the most substantial contribution with a steady 43, but when his side needed someone else to kick on, there was no one to be found. Azam Khan struggled for fluency in a stuttering innings, while captain Sarfaraz Ahmed fell early. With the side being bowled out for 133, they needed a big contribution with the ball, but Khawaja and Munro soon put any such notions to beat.
The record-breaking stand
Keen viewers of the PSL may be aware United like to take full advantage of the powerplay with quality overseas batters, but this might be the finest exponent of the art in the history of this league. Munro got things going off Naseem Shah's first over using a combination of pure timing and artistic placement, fulfilling the role his former Kiwi teammate Luke Ronchi used to execute with such perfection for this side. After Naseem - Russell's concussion substitute - was plundered for 19 in the first over, the floodgates were opened, and Khawaja got into the act soon enough.
Mystifyingly, the Gladiators continued to go with pace on the ball, and that played right into the hands of a sweet timer like Khawaja. Fellow Australian Jack Wildermuth went for three caressed fours off the inning's third over, before Mohammad Hasnain was picked up and put away over fine leg, all using the tearaway fast bowler's own pace. The 50 was up, and the game was quickly over as a contest, with the records beginning to tumble.
No 100-plus partnership in all of PSL history has ever seen a higher run rate than Khawaja and Munro's 13.70, and it wasn't even mindless slogging. Repeatedly, the two used field placement, perfect timing, and sharp footwork to remain one step ahead of the hapless Gladiators, and when Munro reverse-swept Mohammad Nawaz for six over third man in the tenth over, putting Sarfaraz's side out of their misery seemed like an act of mercy.
The perfect replacement
Faheem Ashraf's absence for three games seemed like a pivotal blow for United, but Javed and Wasim filled those boots masterfully at the top of the innings. After a loose opening over from Hasan threatened to allow the Gladiators to get off to a flyer, Javed consolidated with a tidy six balls from his end. He tagged Wasim in then, who left veteran South African Faf du Plessis at first flustered, and then embarrassed, working him over with a nastily rearing bouncer before cleaning up the middle stump with one that kept low.
It put the Gladiators on the back foot completely, and in the five powerplay overs the pair bowled, the batters managed a mere 21 runs. They weren't done, though, Akif returning to prise out Weatherald, outthinking the Australian with a leg-stump full toss after all three stumps were exposed for a ramp shot. Wasim, meanwhile, had Nawaz walking back thanks to a near-perfect middle and leg stump yorker that knocked back his stump. Their combined figures of 8-0-30-3 went a long way towards illustrating the story of Islamabad's dominance in that first innings.
Where they stand
United move into second place with eight points, while the Gladiators are cut further adrift at the bottom, with just one win in six.
Gladiators vs United