Azam’s fireworks help Islamabad United thrash Quetta Gladiators by 63 runs

Azam Khan wreaked havoc with a quickfire 97-run knock before bowlers led Islamabad United to a dominating 63-run victory over Quetta Gladiators in the 13th match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season eight.

Set to chase a mammoth 221, the Gladiators could only score 157 before being bundled out in the final over after a brief retaliation by Mohammad Hafeez.

The Gladiators had a poor start to their pursuit as the side lost three wickets for a mere 26 runs in the fourth over with all their top-three batters falling cheaply.

Following the slump, Hafeez alongside skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed looked to anchor the run chase with a crucial 69-run partnership for the third wicket and kept the Gladiators in the hunt.

Left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi rocked Gladiators’ march in the 11th over when he dismissed Hafeez off a full-toss. Hafeez scored a quick 48 off 26 deliveries, hitting six boundaries and two sixes.

Following Hafeez’s dismissal, Sarfaraz stitched a cautious 32-run partnership with Iftikhar Ahmed before the former finally perished in the 16th over. He scored 41 off 36.

Sarfaraz’s dismissal triggered a match-defining collapse in the Gladiators’ batting lineup, which eventually bundled out in the final over with their notable run-getter Iftikhar also walking back to the pavilion in the 19th.

Iftikhar could score 39 off 27 deliveries with the help of three boundaries and two sixes.

Farooqi and Hasan Ali picked up three wickets each for the United while Abrar Ahmed and Shadab Khan made twin strikes apiece.

Opting to bat first, the United posted a massive 220/6 at the back of an astounding 97-run knock by Azam despite a dismal start.

Earlier, the United got off to an unlikely start as the side was four down for 71 runs inside 10 overs before Azam turned things around with his belligerent hitting.

With the side at 77/4 in the first 10 overs, Azam stitched a match-defining partnership with Asif Ali and launched a counterattack on the Gladiators’ bowlers.

The pair added brisk 98 runs in just 45 deliveries with Azam being the core aggressor of the game-changing spell.

Naseem then finally managed to break the partnership in the 18th over when he dismissed Asif, who scored 42 off just 24 deliveries with the help of a boundary and four sixes.

Asif’s dismissal did not bother Azam’s approach as he kept on charging on the Gladiators’ bowlers amid his brief yet effective partnership with Faheem Ashraf, who remained unbeaten on 17 off just six.

After all the thrashing, Odean Smith finally cleaned up Azam on the final delivery of the innings and barred him from scoring his century.

Azam top-scored for the United with 97 off a mere 42 deliveries and smashed nine boundaries and eight sixes.

Mohammad Hasnain and Odean Smith bagged two wickets each for the Gladiators while Naseem and Aimal Khan struck out a batter each.

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