Anwar Ali's plundering of 22 runs in the final over went in vain as Quetta Gladiators fell just one run short of their target in the Pakistan Super League 2018 Eliminator at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore, losing to Peshawar Zalmi and going out of the tournament.
In another PSL match with final-over drama, the all-rounder was asked to come up with 24 runs off the final six balls. He hit four boundaries, including three 6s, but his attempt for a one last maximum on the final ball saw him fell agonisingly short of completing a Carlos Brathwaite-esque sequence.
Earlier, the Gladiators won the toss and decided to field first on a matchday that had seen plenty of rain and more was expected.
The equation was simple for both the teams: lose and go home or win and earn a shot at the PSL 2018 final opposite Karachi Kings.
The Gladiators were missing key trio of Shane Watson, Kevin Pietersen and Jason Roy — all of who opted against visiting Pakistan. In their absence, the two-time finalists drafted Thisara Perera, Mahmudullah and Tom Kohler-Cadmore into their line-ups.
While their opponents were clearly weakened, Peshawar Zalmi were bolstered even more, thanks to Tamim Iqbal — who had gone for national duty halfway through the tournament —returning to their ranks.
With the Gaddafi Stadium packed to the rafters, Iqbal opened Zalmi's innings and smacked two fours on the first four balls bowled by left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz.
Just when it seemed that Iqbal would rain boundaries on Gladiators, it started raining cats and dogs. With covers back on the Gaddafi Stadium pitch, the chances of a full 20-over match taking place dwindled.
At this point, if the game were to be called off due to rain, Zalmi would've gone through and Quetta eliminated due the former's higher position in the league standings.
But, fortunately, the showers stopped and covers were taken off. The news from the middle was that no overs were to be deducted either — unless of course it rained again.
Zalmi were dealt a major blow after play resumed. Kamran Akmal, who had scored the maiden century of PSL 2018 in the last game, was beaten for pace by Rahat Ali, with the ball taking an inside edge and hitting the stumps.
Barring the last few games, the quality of fielding in PSL 2018 had been extraordinarily high and it showed once again as Thisara Perera took one of the catches of the tournament, sending Andre Fletcher back to the dugout.
Running backwards from mid-on towards the long-on boundary, the Sri Lankan managed to safely grab a catch reminiscent of the great Kapil Dev's effort in the 1983 World Cup final.
In walked vice-captain Mohammad Hafeez, who has had an underwhelming PSL 2018 and whose team needed him to deliver now more than ever.
Despite the loss of two early wickets, one thing working in Zalmi's favour was that they were still unfazed and playing their shots. Iqbal struck two 4s in the fourth over before Hafeez hammered a hat-trick of boundaries in the fifth over bowled by Mir Hamza.
With one-quarter of their overs gone, Zalmi were 37-2.
The Professor, in particular, seemed intent on delivering a lecture as he smacked two more boundaries in the next two overs, bringing up Zalmi's 50 and racing on to 25 runs off just 12 balls.
But 25 runs was all he managed as Mahmudullah had him yorked in the 8th over — at the end of which Zalmi were 57-3 and in need of a longer partnership.
Quetta's Kohler-Cadmore was playing his first PSL 2018 match and his rustiness showed as he made a mess of a simple catch at long-on but didn't drop it either, holding on to it on his third attempt; Iqbal's 29-ball 27-run innings came to and end.
Zalmi had a big 10th over, plundering Mahmudullah for 17 runs, thanks to which they were 76-4 at the halfway point of their innings. At this point a competitive 160 plus total was not beyond the realms of possibility.
But two quiet overs followed by Saad Nasim's wicket in the 13th dampened Zalmi's hopes some more. Perera once again took a magnificent catch at the long-on boundary, reinforcing the age-old cricketing maxim: catches win matches.
Liam Dawson assumed responsibility and upped the ante in the next few overs, taking his team to a 111-5 at the end of the 15th over.
Rahat Ali had bowled with added pace in PSL 2018, which is why it was ironical that he removed Umaid Asif in the 16th over with a slower ball.
Perera had a great time in the field but not so much with the ball. His first over went for 21 runs — all of which came off Dawson's willow. After 17 overs, Zalmi were 135-6.
But just when it seemed that the pairing of Dawson and Darren Sammy would help Zalmi amass 170, Rahat's 18th over killed their hopes.
The left-arm pacer removed both the batsmen in the space of three balls to put Quetta back on top.
After Dawson's 35-ball 62-run innings came to an end, Wahab Riaz hit a couple of boundaries to Mir Hamza in the penultimate over before become one of Perera's two victims in the final over.
Zalmi were all out for 157 on the final ball of their innings, setting a 158-run target for the Gladiators.
Quetta Gladiator innings
The Gladiators run chase had a nightmare start as they lost the out-of-form Asad Shafiq on the opening ball of their innings.
Kohler-Cadmore, Shafiq's opening partner, was also sent packing in the third over, with the excellent Hasan Ali picking his second wicket.
With two wickets gone so early, the situation warranted a calm and dependable batter. In came captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who promoted himself up the order.
His presence in the middle alongside Nawaz meant that the leakage of wickets stopped but not at the cost of runs. At the end of 6 overs, the Gladiators were 49-2 and in need of 109 more runs from 14 overs — a very achievable task.
The left-right duo handled the Zalmi bowlers very well for the next four overs, taking their side to 79-2 after 9 overs. After their rocky start, Quetta were well and truly back in the game.
But Sameen Gul's 10th over change the scenario completely and the Gladiators were back under the cos.
The 19-year-old medium-pacer had both Sarfraz and Nawaz holed out on back-to-back balls as Quetta were pegged back. Both the batters departed having contributed 35 runs each to their team's cause.
Halfway through their innings, Quetta were 80-4, with the pairing of Mahmudullah and Rilee Rossouw at the crease.
The loss of two set batsmen — one of them being the captain — would see some teams fold right there and then, but not the plucky Gladiators.
Mahmudullah and Rossouw carried on, with the former bringing up the team's 100 with a pretty looking punch through the cover.
After 15 overs, the Gladiators were 112-4 and 46 adrift of ending Peshawar Zalmi's PSL 2018 campaign.
With a 16-ball difference, the need was for the duo to accelerate a little — something Mahmudullah tried in the 16th, failed and had his wicket shattered by Umaid Asif.
Asif struck again in the same over, this time the dangerous Rossouw caught as the balance shifted back in Zalmi's favour.
It was up to Anwar Ali and Perera to get their team over the line. They needed 30 runs off the final three overs but Hasan Ali bowled an excellent 17th, conceding just 2 runs to solidify his team's status as the favourites in the contest.
Wahab Riaz picked two more wickets in the innings' penultimate to further boost his team's chances.
That set the stage for another tense ending to a PSL encounter.
With Anwar at the strike, the ask of him was to somehow conjure up 25 runs from the final six balls of Dawson. The Karachi native smacked a 6 and a 4 off the first two balls before a dot ball again piled the pressure on him.
With 15 needed off 3, the margin for error was gone. Anwar nearly rose to the occasion, hitting two straight sixes.
Off the final ball, Quetta needed three. Anwar went for the long-on boundary, was dropped and given a life-line, was on his way for a second run — which if completed would've resulted in a Super Over — but his partner was run out.
The Gladiators fell just one run short of Zalmi's score and their streak of making the PSL finals was over.
Hasan Ali was named the man of the match for his bowling figures of 2-21.
Quetta XI: T Kohler-Cadmore, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mahmudullah, R Rossouw, T Perera, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Khan, Rahat Ali, Mir Hamza
Peshawar XI: Kamran Akmal, Tamim Iqbal, A Fletcher, Mohammad Hafeez, Saad Nasim, L Dawson, D Sammy, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Umaid Asif, Sameen Gul