ABU DHABI: Riding on another blistering Shane Watson knock and Ahmed Shehzad finally striking form, Quetta Gladiators outplayed Peshawar Zalmi by a comprehensive eight-wicket margin to become the first team to reach the playoffs of the HBL Pakistan Super League here on Monday.
The Gladiators were hardly challenged as they effortlessly chased down a target of 166 in the first PSL fixture to be played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on the back of a magnificent second-wicket partnership between Watson and Shehzad, which yielded 129 run in just 88 balls.
After Ahsan Ali (1) had been trapped leg-before-wicket by Sameen Gul at start of the second over, the Gladiators took advantage of shoddy fielding from the Zalmi to get over the line in 17.4 overs for their second victory against Darren Sammy’s charges.
The second half of what became a lopsided match saw Watson take centre stage as the ex-Australian all-rounder produced some outrageous strokes from his punishing blade which fetched him half a dozen sixes and as many fours during his 55-ball innings of 91.
Shehzad came good at the appropriate moment with the tournament now moving to the business end. The discarded Pakistan right-hander made it count as he reached exactly 50 with his 45-ball knock featuring five boundaries until he was bowled by paceman Umaid Asif.
Rilee Rossouw (12) kept Watson’s company when the Gladiators completed their sixth win in eight matches to reclaim the top slot they held for a while after beginning the competition with four consecutive victories.
There was nothing anew at the toss and Sarfraz Ahmed’s winning the call of the coin meant Zalmi, predictably enough, had to bat first. After a run of low scores, Kamran Akmal regained his lost touch in a stroke-filled innings of 72. The former Pakistan wicket-keeper, who is a vital cog in the Zalmi line-up, was undone by Mohammad Hasnain when the young paceman from Hyderabad cleaned up the opener with a straight delivery when Kamran had shuffled across the stumps.
Kamran’s breezy 50-ball contribution included 52 runs in boundaries — seven fours and four sixes — and being the dominant partner in all three stands with Andre Fletcher (26 off 28 balls, two fours and one six) with whom he added 58 before putting on 40 with Imam-ul-Haq (13) with Kieron Pollard partnering him to put a further 31 runs.
After Kamran was dismissed, Pollard made sure Zalmi post a competitive total as the West Indies right-hander bludgeoned seven fours and one six to end up scoring an undefeated 44 from only 21 deliveries.
Spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Fawad Ahmed bowled tidily but the pace trio of Sohail Tanvir, Hasnain and Dwayne Bravo collectively conceded 113 in 12 overs.
Kamran Akmal b Hasnain 72
A.D.S. Fetcher b Nawaz 26
Imam-ul-Haq c Hasnain b Fawad 13
K.A. Pollard not out 44
D.J.G. Sammy c Rossouw b Bravo 3
Umar Amin not out 1
EXTRAS (LB-3, W-3) 6
TOTAL (for four wkts, 20 overs) 165
FALL OF WKTS: 1-58, 2-98, 3-129, 4-164.
DID NOT BAT: L.A. Dawson, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Umaid Asif, Sameen Gul.
BOWLING: Mohammad Nawaz 4-0-24-1; Sohail Tanvir 4-0-38-0 (1w); Mohammad Hasnain 4-0-34-1 (1w); Bravo 4-0-41-1 (1w); Fawad Ahmed 40-25-1.
S.R. Watson not out 91
Ahsan Ali lbw b Sameen 1
Ahmed Shehzad b Umaid 50
R.R. Rossouw not out 12
EXTRAS (LB-3, W-8, NB-1) 12
TOTAL (for two wkts, 17.4 overs) 166
FALL OF WKTS: 1-8, 2-137.
DID NOT BAT: Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, D.J. Bravo, Mohammad Nawaz, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Hasnain, Fawad Ahmed.
BOWLING: Hasan Ali 3-0-23-0; Sameen Gul 4-0-34-1; Umaid Asif 4-0-46-1 (1w); Wahab Riaz 3.4-0-37-0 (1nb, 2w); Dawson 2-0-17-0; Pollard 1-0-6-0 (1w).
RESULT: Quetta Gladiators won by eight wickets.
UMPIRES: Asif Yaqoob (Pakistan) and R.E.J. Martinesz (Sri Lanka).
TV UMPIRE: Ahsan Raza (Pakistan).
MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees (Pakistan).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Shane Watson.
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2019