KARACHI: Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz was a mighty relieved man on Tuesday night after Haider Ali’s late cameo guided the team to a thrilling win over Multan Sultans in their nerve-wrecking HBL Pakistan Super League 6 encounter.

Multan Sultans rode on a magnificent 55-ball 84 from England’s James Vince to pile up 193-4 against loose Peshawar Zalmi bowling with Wahab himself taken to the cleaners since his four overs cost the Pakistan left-arm pacer 50 runs.

“Hats off to the boys the way they chased down the target after our bowling was all over the place but still I would say the bowlers did a fine job in the first match and tried their best to defend a small total in our first game against Lahore Qalandars. But I thought the plans on the batting front in this game were brilliantly executed and the way everyone chipped in,” Wahab said in his post-match comments.

“Haider [24 off eight balls] then showed why he is rated so highly. Overall, Peshawar Zalmi had the self-belief that eventually saw us through. It was pleasing for us to win after that defeat [against Lahore].”

Tom Kohler-Cadmore — who had made a solitary HBL PSL appearance for Quetta Gladiators (against Peshawar Zalmi during the Eliminator 1 encounter at Lahore in 2018) — set up the final surge for Haider with a blazing man-of-the-match effort of 53 off 32 balls.

“The conditions were excellent I must say and it was a wonderful pitch for a T20 game [both] for batting and bowling and for those who bowled in the right areas. Multan Sultans batted really well and we bowled very badly but it was our self-belief which got us through because it wasn’t an easy target at all,” Wahab asserted. “Credit to Kamran [Akmal] for the start he provided upfront, Imam [-ul-Haq] and Tom for keeping the momentum going.

“We’ve to learn from our mistakes because we are expecting more or less same sort of pitches, so we have to come out with better plans in the remaining matches in Karachi.”

Meanwhile, Multan Sultans Azhar Mahmood said the nature of pitch changed during Peshawar Zalmi’s innings and that allowed the ball to skid through quicker onto the bat.

“It was exactly what happened. In hindsight our total looked 10-20 runs short because they [Peshawar] took the game away from us. It also highlighted the fact our bowling is inexperienced,” Azhar, the former all-rounder who also worked as Pakistan bowling coach in recent years, remarked. “We have now to work on the bowling side because we certainly lacked on that front.”

Azhar laughed when asked what was required to win in the early day of HBL PSL 6 after all five matches so far have been won by teams bowling first.

“Obviously you must win the toss in every match and then chase down whatever the target you are asked to chase! So the margin of winning definite improves as we all have witnessed in the opening five matches” he said.

Azhar applauded Shahnawaz Dhani’s attitude after the debutant fast bowler claimed two wickets.

“I loved his guy, especially his smile which was great to see. I was mighty impressed with Shahnawaz and his attitude was phenomenal. And although he gave away 24 runs at the backend stage of the match, he is someone worth watching,” Azhar added. “There is no doubt in my mind that he could be an asset both for Multan Sultans as well as Pakistan.”

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2021

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