SHARJAH: Already assured of a playoff berth in the HBL Pakistan Super League, two-time losing finalists Quetta Gladiators now find themselves in a Catch-22 scenario for two unambiguous purposes.
Back-to-back losses here at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium to Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United, respectively have left Quetta presently in a state of uneasiness because they won’t know until the last two fixtures of the league phase on Friday night where they would exactly end up In the final standings.
Now if Islamabad, the winners of the inaugural edition two years ago, were to maintain their winning mode against Karachi Kings, Quetta would then retain their grip on the second spot behind Misbah-ul-Haq’s side.
But if Karachi, who themselves are dangling in the danger zone at this point in time, succeed in stopping Islamabad’s six-match unbeaten streak, then Quetta will have to travel to Lahore for the possible two playoffs they might have to play — and win both to reach the final in Karachi.
Quetta skipper Sarfraz Ahmed was quite pensive when showed up at the post-match media conference in which he conceded his team must get over the languid display on successive nights here in Sharjah, while expressing concern as regards to availability or otherwise of the franchise’s overseas contingent.
“It is not that we have not been trying or something. In this game the idea of batting first was to get a total of at least 160 if not more. You cannot say we lacked the intensity or motivation. The reason we didn’t win because the opposition played better than us,” Sarfraz said. “Of course we are facing issues concerning the availability of our foreign players for the matches [in Pakistan]. I cannot give a clear-cut answer on this since I’m as unaware as our team management is. We are in contact with them but I can confirm that thus far Kevin Pietersen has pulled out, while Shane Watson remains undecided about his plans and Rille Rossouw is yet to make up his mind.
“But I can inform you that Ben Laughlin and Chris Green [the other Australians in the Quetta squad] have indicated that they will tour Pakistan. In the worst scenario, if our regular [overseas] players decide against going there, then we’ll have the option of picking from the [player] redraft process as per rules,” the Pakistan captain added.
Meanwhile, Islamabad had no issues with who’s going to Pakistan with foreign players expressing their readiness to travel after the qualifier at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. And one of them was Jean-Paul Duminy, the South African left-hander, who was their hero in the chase.
The 33-year-old compiled 54 from 47 deliveries without taking undue risks as Islamabad romped home with 10 balls to spare and Duminy picking up the man-of-the-match award.
J.J. Roy b Amad 17
S.R. Watson c Hales b Patel 8
Umar Amin c Hales b Amad 28
K.P. Pietersen c Ronchi b Fahim 7
Sarfraz Ahmed b Hussain 43
R.R. Rossouw not out 16
Anwar Ali c Duminy b Fahim 2
Mohammad Nawaz c Duminy b Fahim 1
Hassaan Khan not out 15
EXTRAS (LB-6, W-3, NB-1) 10
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 147
FALL OF WKTS: 1-19, 2-30, 3-41, 4-105, 5-111, 6-118, 7-121.
DID NOT BAT: Mir Hamza, Rahat Ali.
BOWLING: Patel 2-0-14-1; Mohammad Sami 4-0-29-0 (1w); Fahim Ashraf 4-0-19-3 (1w); Amad Butt 4-0-30-2 (1nb, 1w); Hussain Talat 3-0-29-1; Shadab Khan 3-0-20-0.
J.P. Duminy c Hassaan b Rahat 54
L. Ronchi b Rahat 10
A.D. Hales c Watson b Hamza 16
Shadab Khan b Watson 18
Hussain Talat not out 28
Asif Ali not out 18
EXTRAS (W-5) 5
TOTAL (for four wkts, 18.2 overs) 149
FALL OF WKTS: 1-13, 2-58, 3-85, 4-129.
DID NOT BAT: Misbah-ul-Haq, S.R. Patel, Fahim Ashraf, Amad Butt, Mohammad Sami.
BOWLING: Mohammad Nawaz
2-0-17-0 (1w); Rahat Ali 3.2-0-33-2 (1w); Mir Hamza 4-0-27-1; Hassaan Khan 2-0-15-0; Watson 4-0-31-1 (3w); Anwar Ali 3-0-26-0.
RESULT: Islamabad United won by six wickets. UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Khalid Mahmood (Pakistan). TV UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz (Pakistan). MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Mahanama (Sri Lanka). MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: J.P. Duminy.
Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2018