Fakhar Zaman’s dramatic return to form and Rahat Ali’s brilliant 4-wicket haul went in vain as Lahore Qalandars saw yet another disappointing start with a five-wicket beating in the opening fixture of the fourth edition of Pakistan Super League in Dubai on Thursday.
Lahore Qalandars, with a new improved look this season, failed to capitalise on the initial boost provided by opener Fakhar Zaman, who smashed 65 off 44 balls to set the team on course towards a gigantic total.
But a middle-order collapse saw Mohammad Hafeez-led side slump from 129-1 to 171-8, with only 40 runs added in the final six overs.
A 50-run opening partnership between Zaman and Sohail Akhtar in six overs put the defending champions on the defensive, but it was United’s all-rounder Faheem Ashraf who drew first blood by taking out Akhtar for 37.
All eyes were on the biggest star attraction AB de Villiers, who played his debut PSL innings after retiring from international cricket for South Africa last year.
De Villiers scored 24 off 17 balls with two boundaries and one six at a strike rate of 141.17, before Waqas Maqsood took the prized wicket.
Set 172 to chase, Islamabad United were left struggling for breath as Rahat Ali tore through the top order, taking two wickets in an over at one time to reduce the Mohammad Sami-led side to 49-3.
His four wickets for 29 runs, however, were in vain as United came from behind to chase down the target with four balls and five wickets remaining. The innings marked a striking return of form for local boys Faheem Ashraf (Player of the Match) and Asif Ali, who scored 23 off 11 and 36 off 19 not out to see their team to victory.