Lewis Gregory impressed with bat and ball to lift two-time champion Islamabad United to a three-wicket win against Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League on Sunday.
Fast bowler Shaheen Afridi and Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan spurred Lahore Qalandars to a four-wicket win over former champion Peshawar Zalmi in the early game.
Gregory, a 28-year-old Englishman, claimed 2-31 after Islamabad chose to field. Multan was restricted to 150-8 with skipper Mohammad Rizwan’s occasionally spirited 71 off 53 balls
Veteran Shahid Afridi gave Multan hope when the 40-year-old legspinner bagged 2-24, took a catch and brilliantly ran out Iftikhar Ahmed off a direct throw.
But Gregory’s unbeaten 49 off 31 balls, including a six and three fours off four successive balls in the penultimate over of Sohail Tanvir, propelled Islamabad to 151-7 with six balls to spare.
Earlier, Shaheen Afridi bagged 3-14 and Rashid didn’t concede a boundary in his impressive PSL debut figures of 0-14 as Peshawar was restricted to 140-6.
Rashid’s belligerent unbeaten 27 off 15 balls — including a winning six over midwicket — helped Lahore cruise to 143-6 in 18.3 overs to give last year’s finalists a successful start.
“I call that shot the mini-helicopter, just try to go for it,” said Rashid, who will be playing in just one more PSL game before joining Afghanistan for its series against Zimbabwe.
“The best thing is to finish it off with the bat and I got an opportunity today,” he said.
Afridi had Imam-ul-Haq caught behind off the very first ball after Lahore skipper Sohail Akhtar won the toss and elected to field.
Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik (26) left Peshawar struggling at 46-4 in the eighth over when he edged South African seamer David Wiese.
Ravi Bopara (50 off 44 balls) resurrected the innings with a fighting half century and added 64 runs with West Indian Sherfane Rutherford (26) before Afridi returned in the final overs and dismissed both batsmen to restrict Peshawar.
Lahore was cruising along at 109-4 but Englishman Saqib Mahmood (2-22) halted its progress briefly with the wickets of Samit Patel (8) and Wiese off successive deliveries in the 16th over.
Rashid, however, ensured Lahore didn’t slip as he did the bulk of the scoring with the experienced Mohammad Hafeez finishing at 33 not out.
“I think it was a good start from their bowling,” Peshawar skipper Wahab Riaz said. “There was a little bit in the wicket and the bowlers utilized it really well. The (batsmen) should have taken a little bit more time, but I think the positive was the way Shoaib, Ravi and Rutherford played.”
Lahore plays Quetta Gladiators, which lost its opening game to Karachi Kings, on Monday.
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