SHARJAH: A captain’s innings from Sarfraz Ahmed enabled Quetta Gladiators continue their unbeaten sequence in the HBL Pakistan Super League here on Saturday with a jittery three-wicket victory on the last ball against Lahore Qalandars at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Requiring two off the last ball of an entertaining game, Sarfraz cashed in a loose delivery from South African pace-bowling all-rounder David Wiese for six to complete his team’s fourth successive triumph. The Pakistan skipper finished unconquered 52 off 36 balls with that six and four boundaries to claim the man-of-the-match award.
The loss of in-form Shane Watson on the third ball of the 144-run chase stopped the Gladiators from getting a rapid start as the retired Australian all-rounder went without scoring when Rahat Ali induced him into giving an easy catch to Anton Devcich, who was on the field for A.B. de Villiers.
By the time Sarfraz came to the middle the Gladiators were nervously placed at 53-3 in the eighth over with Rilee Rossouw (17) and Umar Akmal (9) both back in the dugout.
Opener Ahsan Ali, however, kept the scoreboard ticking with a brisk innings of 40 from 29 balls in his only his second appearance in the PSL. The right-hander adorned his fine contribution with a brace of sixes and as many fours until he was deceived by young Nepal leggie Sandeep Lamichhane at the start of the 12th over.
And when Dwayne Smith was run out at the beginning at the next over, the Qalandars had clawed back into contention with the Gladiators feeling the heat at 81-5.
But Mohammad Nawaz, whose all-round prowess is rarely seen in international or an event like this one, lent Sarfraz the support he was searching for. The two added 54 from 39 balls in the decisive partnership of the match before Nawaz (19) was held inside the fence off upcoming speedster Haris Rauf.
After Anwar Ali was cleaned up by Wiese, Sohail Tanvir joined Sarfraz until the end.
Earlier, the Qalandars managed an inadequate 143-7 after Sarfraz had won his fourth toss on the trot. Sohail Akhtar crashed three sixes and one four in a 21-ball 29 after Fakhar Zaman — who later acted as skipper after de Villiers suffered from cramps while batting — had holed out to long on for three.
De Villiers’ 40-ball innings lacked the fluency of Friday’s match-winning 52 against Multan Sultans as the South African hit up an unbeaten 45 with two boundaries.
Left-arm paceman Ghulam Mudassar was excellent in snapping up three wickets for 21 runs.
Fakhar Zaman c Umar b Nawaz 3 Sohail Akhtar c Sarfraz b Mudassar 29 Salman Butt c Ahsan b Mudassar 5 A.B. de Villiers not out 45 C.J. Anderson c Nawaz b Anwar 19 D. Wiese c Smith b Sohail 20 Gauhar Ali lbw b Mudassar 5 Yasir Shah c Ahsan b Sohail 1 S. Lamichhane not out 5 EXTRAS (B-1, LB-7, NB-3) 11 TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 143 FALL OF WKTS: 1-15, 2-40, 3-41, 4-78, 5-118, 6-129, 7-136. DID NOT BAT: Haris Rauf, Rahat Ali. BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 4-0-21-2; Mohammad Nawaz 4-0-35-1; Ghulam Mudassar 4-0-21-3 (2w); Anwar Ali 4-0-27-1; Fawad Ahmed 4-0-31-0.
S.R. Watson c sub b Rahat 0 Ahsan Ali b Lamichhane 40 R.R. Rossouw b Yasir 17 Umar Akmal c Gauhar b Haris 9 Sarfraz Ahmed not out 52 D.R. Smith run out 2 Mohammad Nawaz c Sohail b Haris 19 Anwar Ali b Wiese 1 Sohail Tanvir not out 2 EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, W-4) 6 TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 148 FALL OF WKTS: 1-1, 2-26, 3-53, 4-77, 5-81, 6-135, 7-137. DID NOT BAT: Ghulam Mudassar, Fawad Ahmed. BOWLING: Rahat Ali 4-0-33-1 (2w); Yasir Shah 4-0-31-1; Wiese 4-0-37-1 (1w); Lamichhane 4-0-20-1; Haris Rauf 4-0-25-2 (1w). RESULT: Quetta Gladiators won by three wickets. UMPIRES: R.E.J. Martinesz (Sri Lanka) and Shozab Raza (Pakistan). TV UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz (Pakistan). MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Mahanama (Sri Lanka). MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Sarfraz Ahmed.
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2019