Babar, Yakub play lead roles in incredible Peshawar heist

islamabad united vs peshawar zalmi

In a highly volatile game of T20 cricket, Peshawar Zalmi recorded their third consecutive win with a stunning eight-run victory over Islamabad United in Lahore on Monday (February 26).

Babar, Yakub play lead roles in incredible Peshawar heist

Babar Azam produced a brilliant century (111* off 63 runs) to set everything up for Peshawar, but before Arif’s triple strike Islamabad Azam Khan (75 off 30) and Colin Munro (71 off 53) ) was avoiding pursuit through. Yaqoob (5-27) turned the game in sensational fashion. This was a loss from which Islamabad could not recover.

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On another good batting surface, Islamabad United opted to bowl, but Peshawar were out of the blocks once again due to their opening pair. Saim Ayub continued where he left off with another explosive innings (38 off 21 balls) against Lahore last night, while Babar also looked aggressive from the very first ball. They could not make another century partnership but the 77-run partnership gave Peshawar the perfect platform for another big score. However, Islamabad struggled through spin to take a flurry of wickets in the middle overs.

Agha Salman started with the big wicket of Ayub while Shadab Khan dismissed Mohammad Haris and Hasibullah Khan early on, allowing Peshawar to slip from 77/0 to 80/3 in no time. Paul Walter hit some hits and looked set for an impressive innings, but an error in assessing a run cost him his wicket. Rovman Powell also could not last long and it seemed that Peshawar’s innings would collapse, as it happened against Karachi Kings. Incidentally, that was also a game where Babar was well set as wickets were falling around him. However, unlike that game, today the Peshawar captain batted right and scored big.

Babar was in full swing and single-handedly dismissed all the Islamabad bowlers to push Peshawar towards a huge score. Asif Ali, despite his powerhitting ability, was reduced to a supporting role as he contributed only 17 runs in an unbroken 77-run partnership with Babar. This partnership provided serious momentum to Peshawar and Islamabad’s bowlers often missed the mark in the death overs. To his credit, Babar has rarely missed a scoring opportunity and has converted some precise deliveries into boundary balls.

The target of 202 runs was not out of reach, even if the surface looked a little slower than the previous game against Lahore. Babar’s bowlers were right on the money with the new ball and made good use of the sluggish nature of the pitch, conceding just 45 runs in the powerplay, while also taking the big wicket of Jordan Cox. This proved to be another failure for Shadab who promoted himself to No. 3 but to no avail. Colin Munro continued to dig in, despite appearing far from fluent. When Agha Salman fell in the tenth over, Islamabad needed 129 more runs from 63 balls – a huge challenge.

Then Azam came to the party with his free-thinking brand. The intention and ball-striking were in sync, and the attack took Peshawar by surprise. This also affected Munro and he too started searching for his limits, which in no time resulted in a carnage that made a mockery of run chases. Fours and sixes were coming off the bat of both the batsmen as they added 108 runs in just 51 balls, with Azam being the key partner. The equation came down to 21 off 13, and with seven wickets remaining on a good batting deck, Islamabad were almost looking at home. This was not to happen.

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Azam fell to Naveen-ul-Haq on a rare miss to give Peshawar some relief, before Babar took a big punt for the final over. Leggy Yaqoob has been among the wicket-takers for Peshawar this season and took two wickets early in the innings, but bowling the 19th over against Islamabad’s powerhitters was a gamble. However, it was a fight that Jacobs won, striking out three times while giving up only two runs. The game had changed sensationally and before they could understand what had happened, Islamabad were suffocated. Salman Irshad had to defend 18 runs in the last over and he did it comfortably to ensure a special win for Peshawar.

Brief scores: Peshawar Zalmi 201/5 in 20 overs (Babar Azam 111*; Shadab Khan 2-28) beat Islamabad United 193-9 in 20 overs (Azam Khan 75, Colin Munro 75; Arif Yaqoob 5-27) By eight runs.

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