A display of uninhibited ball striking from Shane Watson and Sharjeel Khan helped Islamabad United secure an eight-wicket win over Lahore Qalandars in Sharjah on Wednesday night. A second successive victory meant Islamabad also lifted themselves off the bottom of the points table.
Watson, leading Islamabad after Misbah-ul-Haq failed to recover from a calf injury, smashed a 47-ball 79. Sharjeel matched him stroke-for-stroke in a 153-run opening stand before Ehsan Adil had Watson caught down the leg side, with Islamabad needing just 14 more. Andre Russell, promoted to No. 3 also early but Sharjeel finished the game off with two towering sixes as Islamabad won with 25 balls to spare. Sharjeel finished unbeaten on 79.
Lahore Qalandars didn’t make things easy for them as they gave Watson a reprieve on 11 when Cameron Delport put down a chance at square leg off Kevon Cooper. It proved to be a costly miss as Watson used the short side boundaries in Sharjah as his ally by smashing four fours and seven sixes.
The chase was well and truly kickstarted by Sharjeel, who hit Ehsan Adil for 20 runs off the fifth over. Watson caught on from there, doing a bulk of the scoring over the next seven overs off which 70 runs were scored. Watson was the first to raise his half-century off 37 deliveries, while Sharjeel brought up his own off just 26 deliveries.
With the personal landmarks out of the way, both batsmen simply continued their nonchalant display of six-hitting as Cooper’s second over went for 25 to reduce the target down to 23 off the last eight overs. The lack of sting in the bowling seemed to have had a deflating effect on Lahore Qalandars, even though they managed two wickets as the batsmen fell to big strokes.
The ferocity of the hitting was such that Lahore’s effort with that bat that was fuelled by a late cameo by Mohammad Rizwan almost went unnoticed. Rizwan, who came in to bat with the scorecard reading 89 for 4 in the 13th over, marshalled the lower order to conjure an unbeaten 27-ball 50 courtesy five fours and three sixes. It helped repair the early damage caused by Mohammad Sami and Saeed Ajmal.
The last five overs fetched 58, but any thoughts of 166 being a potentially defendable total were quashed by the belligerence of Watson and Sharjeel as Lahore Qalandars, who were without the services of Chris Gayle because of flu, slumped to the bottom of the table.
Islamabad United: SR Watson (c), Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, SW Billings, Kamran Ghulam, BJ Haddin, Imran Khalid, AD Russell, Mohammad Sami, Rumman Raees, Saeed Ajmal
Lahore Qalandars: Azher Ali (c), CS Delport, Naved Yasin, Mohammad Rizwan, Umar Akmal, DJ Bravo, Zohaib Khan, Zafar Gohar, KK Cooper, Ehsan Adil, BAW Mendis