PSL 2018: Irfan, Sangakkara lead newcomer Multan to seven-wicket win

The defending champion Peshawal Zalmi failed to take the match by the scruff of the neck and went down without a fight.

A file image of Multan Sultans' wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who made a half-century and anchored the chase.   -  Getty Images

Defending champion Peshawar Zalmi opened its PSL title defence with a seven-wicket defeat to newcomer Multan Sultans at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday night.

Asked to bat first after losing the toss, Peshawar's innings struggled for momentum. The towering Mohammad Irfan struck twice in the powerplay, sending back compatriot Kamran Akmal and hard-hitting Bangladeshi opener Tamim Iqbal.

Hafeez, who walked into bat in the fourth over, shared 35 and 44-run partnerships for the third and fourth wickets to take his team past 100 in the 16th over. Darren Sammy, the team captain, gave the innings the final flourish with an 11-ball 29, helping Peshawar finish 151 for six, the last four overs producing 49 runs. Hafeez top-scored with 52-ball 59. Irfan bowled an impressive four-over spell, taking two wickets and conceding just 19 runs in the bargain.

A target of 152 was not going to be difficult to chase on a pitch with good pace and bounce and which didn't offer much lateral movement. And Peshawar didn't quite have the fast-bowling ammunition of Multan to unsettle accomplished Twenty20 batsmen like Kumar Sangakkara, Shoaib Malik and Kieron Pollard. Wahab Riaz was the only big threat to the new PSL team, which played this left-arm pacer cautiously.

The former Sri Lankan captain, Sangakkara, anchored the chase with a 51-ball 57. Despite losing opener Ahmed Shehzad for a duck, solid partnerships thereafter lent stability to the Multan innings and it was always on course to reach the target. Sohaib Maqsood put on 47 runs for the second wicket with Sangakkara, who then forged a 52-run partnership with Shoaib Malik to take Multan to within 50 runs of the target with more than five overs to play. Sangakkara was dismissed by Riaz with a ball that straightened after pitching, but not before the southpaw had put his team in the driver's seat.

Peshawar didn't take wickets during the middle overs and the chase was set up for Malik and Pollard to tee off. And they did tee off to take Multan to a victory with five balls to spare. Malik was unbeaten on 42 (30 balls) and his partner Pollard had made 21 runs off 13 balls, the duo sharing an unbeaten 46-run stand for the fourth wicket. Riaz was the standout bowler for Peshawar, finishing with two for 19 in four overs.

PSL 2018 journey

Teams:

Peshawar Zalmi
Islamabad United
Karachi Kings
Quetta Gladiators
Lahore Qalandars
Multan Sultans (new entrant)

The entire league phase and first qualifier of the third edition of the Pakistan Super League will be played in the United Arab Emirates, with Dubai International Stadium and Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium hosting the 30 league matches spread over 23 days.

In what is a welcome move for international cricket and cricket in Pakistan, the country is scheduled to host three of the knockout matches this season, having hosted only the final last season. The first (March 20) and second Eliminator (March 21) will be staged at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium and the final is scheduled to be played at National Stadium, Karachi, on March 25.