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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

PSL 2019: More misery for Islamabad United and Mohammed Sami as Shane Watson inspires Quetta Gladiators to victory

Second successive loss for the defending champions in Dubai

Dean Jones launched an impassioned defence of Mohammed Sami’s role as captain, after Islamabad United lost a second successive match during a troubled start to their Pakistan Super League title defence.

The champions were outplayed by Quetta Gladiators, as they succumbed to a seven-wicket loss at the Dubai International Stadium.

Shane Watson was named man of the match for his 81 not out in the run-chase for Quetta, after Sohail Tanvir took four for 21 to restrict the holders to 157 for eight.

It might have been much worse for Islamabad. Tanvir took the wicket of Luke Ronchi off the first ball of the match, completed a double-wicket maiden off the first over, then Islamabad were eight for three shortly after.

Fawad Ahmed, the Australia leg-spinner, took three for 15 from his four overs, and Islamabad had Wayne Parnell’s brisk 41 in the late overs to thank for giving them something to defend.

Watson and Umar Akmal, who played another sparkling hand with 44 from 28 balls, made light work of the chase, though.

Just to add a further indignity, Sami, the fast bowler whose appointment as captain has not been universally well received, bowled Watson off a no ball, when he kicked the stumps in his delivery stride.

“Why would we be worried about him? Did he do anything wrong today?” Jones said, when asked if Sami’s elevation to captaincy had been a mistake.

“We lost the game because we didn’t make enough runs on that deck. It was a 175-run deck, and we were three for eight, but we had enough courage and fight to get 158 from there.

“A lot of other guys would’ve capitulated. Don’t pick on Mohammed Sami, pick on other guys. It is not his fault.”

In the past, Islamabad, the PSL’s most successful franchise, have won titles with a late surge at the end of the competition. As such, Jones has often reacted to slow starts with a lack of concern.

However, that is not the case this season, as the former Australia batsman acknowledged there are issues to address that go beyond the captaincy and make-up of the playing XI.

“There are outside pressures within this team at the moment that we have to ratify,” Jones said.

“Once we have sorted that out, hopefully players will start to play a little bit better. I’m not going to go into them, because they are personal.

“But we have to get that right. The game is not just about T20 cricket, you are trying to help some guys get through their lives, and they have problems.

“We might just have to do a little reshuffle now, look at the decks, although I don’t like changing the team that often. We have four days now to reboot.”

Akmal’s innings was his second notable effort in the tournament so far, after his match-winning 75 not out in Quetta’s opener, which will add more weight to the growing calls for his recall to the Pakistan side.

Updated: February 17, 2019 08:26 PM

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