Sharjeel ton powers Islamabad to final

Opener Sharjeel Khan scored a blistering 117 and spinner Imran Khalid returned figures 3-0-20-4 as Islamabad United comprehensively beat Peshawar Zalmi by 50 runs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Chasing 177, Zalmi slumped to 126-10 in 18 overs. With this win, United has qualified for Pakistan Super League (PSL) final.

It was an all-round show by United’s batsmen and bowlers as they send a strong, star-studded Zalmi packing.

Zalmi have had a great tournament until playoffs where they lost both of their matches. Gladiators, in a nail-biting last-ball finish, overcame Zalmi in the first playoff on February 19.

Zalmi’s scorecard showed a dismal picture as none other than Kamran Akmal (45 off 32, with five fours and two sixes) could stand tall in front of a charged-up United attack.

Dawid Malan was the first to depart after scoring seven, followed by Mohammad Hafeez (eight), Akmal, Brad Hodge (five), Darren Sammy (nine), Shahid Yousuf (four), Wahab Riaz (one), Hassan Ali (one) and Mohammad Asghar (zero).

Skipper Afridi tried to put up some resistance but he alone wasn’t enough to take Zalmi home. In his 17-ball stay on the crease, Afridi scored 38 runs hitting four gigantic sixes and two fours.

Earlier, opener Sharjeel Khan scored a 117 runs to lift Islamabad United to 176-3.

As Afridi came in to bowl the 16th over and pitched it short, Sharjeel smacked it straight down the ground, clearing the long-off, to register himself as the first batsman to score a hundred in PSL.

He hit 12 fours and eight sixes in his 62-ball knock.

United, after being sent in to bat, established a 108-run stand for the first wicket in 13.1 overs.

Zalmi pace spearhead Shaun Tait, by dismissing a struggling Dwayne Smith (19 off 37) and Brad Haddin (zero) on consecutive deliveries, tried to bring his team back into the contest but was left looking for support from other teammates.

The Hyderabad-born Sharjeel was enjoyed support in death overs by Khalid Latif, who came in to bat at number four, and scored a crucial 28 off 21 balls.

Sharjeel and Latif established an important 63-run partnership for the third wicket. Sharjeel, in an attempt to get the strike back, ran himself out in the final over.

Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators will compete for 2016 PSL trophy on February 23.

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