KARACHI: Although Quetta Gladiators stood dethroned as the HBL Pakistan Super League champions before they took the field against Karachi Kings at the National Stadium on Sunday, they bowed out with a face-saving win by five wickets.
Qualification for the semi-finals was hypothetically beyond Sarfraz Ahmed’s men as they had gone into this encounter with an inferior net run-rate of -1.072. They needed to overhaul the target of 151 runs in just 20 deliveries to overhaul fourth-placed Peshawar Zalmi for the remaining knockout-round berth.
The outgoing champions were 27-1 at that stage and needed 16.2 overs to chalk up their fourth success, and the second against Karachi Kings by an identical margin. Azam Khan hit the winning boundary off Arshad Iqbal.
The result was more than satisfying for Quetta Gladiators because they averted the humiliation of finishing at the bottom of the pile.
The chase, however, was attached with a tinge of disaster when Ahmed Shehzad edged the second ball of the innings to wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan. But sanity prevailed as Shane Watson and Khurram Manzoor wasted no time in repairing the damage with a stand of 118 in 65 balls.
Khurram capitalised on the given opportunity to hit 63 off 40 balls with the aid of nine fours and one six after teeing off with four boundaries in one over of the Attock-born US pace bowler Ali Khan.
Man-of-the-match Watson unnecessarily got himself out, held at mid-off, after making 66 adorning his 34-ball knock with seven fours and four sixes.
Upfront on a new pitch that looked somewhat bald at both ends, Karachi Kings batsmen barely upped the ante by advancing to mere 60-2 at the midpoint of their innings before finishing at 150-5 in their 20 overs, thanks to the partnership of Cameron Delport and Chadwick Walton.
With nothing at stake for them Karachi Kings chose to ring changes to the playing XI by omitting their first-choice pace attack of Mohammad Amir, Chris Jordan and Umaid Asif. Among the replacements was Pakistan wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan
After back-to-back match-winning knocks, Sharjeel Khan had a brief stay, cleaned up by teenaged speedster Naseem Shah. The left-hander departed for a duck after playing across to the second ball that knocked back his off stump. Iftikhar Ahmed was the other man to be dismissed in powerplay, slapping a catch to Watson at midwicket off Sohail Khan for a 17-ball 21.
Babar Azam was never at his usual fluent. And when the Pakistan T20 skipper attempted to blast Australian leg-spinner Fawad Khan out of the boundary he found Mohammad Nawaz poaching the catch to send him back for a 34-ball 32 that included three fours.
The impetus was provided by Delport and Walton as the overseas duo added 73 from 43 balls for the fourth wicket.
Sharjeel Khan b Naseem0
Babar Azam c Nawaz b Fawad32
Iftikhar Ahmed c Watson b Sohail21
C.S. Delport b Hasnain62
Walton c Hasnain b Naseem26
Mohammad Rizwan not out0
Usama Mir not out1
EXTRAS (LB-5, W-3)8
TOTAL (for five wkts, 20 overs)150
FALL OF WKTS: 1-0, 2-30, 3-72, 4-145, 5-147.
DID NOT BAT: Waqas Maqsood, Arshad Iqbal, Umar Khan, Ali Khan.
BOWLING: Naseem Shah 4-0-17-2 (1w); Sohail Khan 4-0-38-1; Mohammad Nawaz 4-0-32-0 (2w); Fawad Khan 4-0-27-1; Mohammad Hasnain 4-0-31-1.
Ahmed Shehzad c Rizwan b Waqas0
S.R. Watson c Babar b Arshad66
Khurram Manzoor c Usama b Waqas63
Sarfraz Ahmed c Walton b Ali Khan2
Azam Khan not out12
B.C.J. Cutting c Walton b Arshad0
Mohammad Nawaz not out8
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-2)3
TOTAL (for five wkts, 16.2 overs)154
FALL OF WKTS: 1-0, 2-118, 3-121, 4-139, 5-139.
DID NOT BAT: Sohail Khan, Fawad Khan, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain.
BOWLING: Waqas Maqsood 4-0-19-2; Ali Khan 3-0-36-1 (2w); Umar Khan 3-0-31-0; Arshad Iqbal 3.2-0-37-2; Usama Mir 3-0-30-0.
RESULT: Quetta Gladiators won by five wickets.
UMPIRES: M.A. Gough (England) and Rashid Riaz (Pakistan).
TV UMPIRE: Ahsan Raza (Pakistan).
MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Mahanama (Sri Lanka).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Shane Watson (Quetta Gladiators).
TUESDAY’S FIXTURES: First semi-final — Multan Sultans vs Peshawar Zalmi (Lahore, 2:00pm PST); Second semi-final — Karachi Kings vs Lahore Qalandars (Lahore, 7:00pm PST).
Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2020