RAWALPINDI: Throughout the match, it seemed like victory, which has eluded Quetta Gladiators for most part of their HBL Pakistan Super League campaign, was flirting with them again.
Against Islamabad United here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Sunday, the Gladiators would have hoped again when Mohammad Nawaz — whose crucial contribution with the bat had helped them give the hosts a target of 180 to chase — destructed Asif Ali stumps in the 12th over and restricted United to just 17 runs in the next three.
But with 40 needed off the last four overs for United to win, the Gladiators saw the game slipping away from their hands once again, as Faheem Ashraf and Azam Khan got two quick boundaries.
Azam, who played finisher in the previous match against Karachi Kings, effectively buried the game when he thrashed Naveen-ul-Haq straight down the ground for four more before lifting the pacer over long on for six.
Azam (35 off 25) lost his wicket when he found Yasir in the deep after clubbing medium-pacer Umaid Asif for six more before the incoming Hasan Ali holed the veteran pacer out to Smith at long-on.
The two quick dismissals gave the Gladiators another sniff, only for Faheem (39 not out off 31) to find three boundaries off Odean Smith in the final over as United took the game by two wickets.
The result pushed Gladiators further away from a chance to make it to the playoffs with just one win in seven matches, while United consolidated their position in the second place behind leaders Lahore Qalandars.
With the wicket offering movement and bounce, the Gladiators hurt United early when Naseem Shah hit Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s pads for the opener to get ruled out lbw following a review.
Colin Munro got United going with a straight six and a four over the covers off Smith before a leg-bye flew away for four more.
United got 18 runs with Umaid’s introduction in the fourth over as Munro and Alex Hales cleared long-on and square-leg respectively for sixes before Naveen got Hales caught at cover.
Naveen was punished for bowling a no-ball when Shadab Khan heaved him over long-on on the following free hit. Munro stole two more boundaries off Smith in the sixth over as United posted 77-2 by the end of the powerplay.
Munro brought up his fifty with a huge six off Iftikhar Ahmed in the next over before cutting the off-spinner for four more and launching him for another maximum.
Iftikhar finished his over with Shadab’s wicket as the United captain found Yasir Khan in the deep before Nawaz made Munro (63 off 29) miscue another attempt to go big, only to get caught by Naseem.
The Gladiators struck again when Umaid conceded just four runs against the run of play in the ninth over, which ended with Mubasir Khan’s departure before Nawaz sent Asif off.
After being sent in to bat, the Gladiators got off to a terrible start. They were reeling at 19-4 at the end of the first six powerplay overs before they were rescued by a 104-run partnership between Nawaz and Najibullah Zadran and Umar Akmal’s late unbeaten cameo of 43 runs off just 14 balls.
Left-arm pacer Fazal Haq Farooqi had trapped opener Will Smeed lbw with a perfect in-swinger in the first over before he returned to dismiss Smeed’s partner Yasir.
Sarfraz, who had promoted himself to first drop, fell prey to Mubasir’s acrobatic fielding effort at deep square leg after the right-hander had connected well to sweep Faheem’s medium-pace before the all-rounder bagged Iftikhar’s wicket.
The first boundary for the Gladiators came off Nawaz’s bat off Mubasir’s in the seventh over before Zadran took on the off-spinner two overs later for a towering six over midwicket — Quetta’s first maximum. Nawaz hit two beautifully placed shots through point for four to finish off the over, which saw 16 runs come for his team.
Zadran and Nawaz welcomed Shadab into the attack with two boundaries each in the 11th over before the former dispatched pacer Rumman Raees for as many in the next. The 14th over saw Colin Munro drop Zadran’s catch off Hasan Ali before the left-hander pulled the pacer for a six before driving him off the backfoot for another boundary.
The Afghan brought up his fifty in 28 balls in the 15th over before Nawaz reached the milestone with a drive for four through mid on off Rumman in the next. The partnership was broken as Farooqi returned to bowl the 17th over when Nawaz (52 off 44) found Mubasir off the left-armer.
Farooqi’s delight was spoiled by Umar, who had replaced Nawaz at the crease, when the right-hander lifted him over midwicket for two sixes and played through the covers for a four to finish off the over.
Umar hit Hasan straight over his head in the next over before Zadran added another maximum to his tally, but the latter was undone by Rumman with a yorker to see his middle stump uprooted to depart for 55 off 34 two balls later.
Rumman conceded only five runs in the over to deal a blow to the Gladiators counter-attack, but Umar ensured he gave his teak the perfect end to their innings with a six over cover, another over midwicket and a boundary past fine leg off Faheem in the final over.
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Yasir Khan c Shadab b Farooqi 5 11 0 0 45.45
Will Smeed lbw b Farooqi 0 1 0 0 0.00
Sarfraz Ahmed c Mubasir b Faheem 3 4 0 0 75.00
Mohammad Nawaz c Mubasir b Farooqi 52 44 6 0 118.18
Iftikhar Ahmed c Shadab b Faheem 2 8 0 0 25.00
Najibullah Zadran b Rumman 59 34 5 3 173.52
Umar Akmal not out 43 14 2 5 307.14
Odean Smith not out 4 4 1 0 100.00
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-1, W-6) 11
TOTAL (for six wickets, 20 overs) 179
DID NOT BAT: Umaid Asif, Naseem Shah, Naveen-ul-Haq
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-3 (Smeed), 2-8 (Yasir), 3-12 (Sarfraz), 4-17 (Iftikhar), 5-121 (Nawaz), 6-154 (Zadran)
BOWLING: Farooqi 4-0-25-3, Rumman 4-0-29-1 (1w), Faheem 3-0-29-2 (4w), Mubasir 2-0-23-0, Hasan 4-0-36-0 (1w), Shadab 3-0-32-0
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Rahmanullah Gurbaz lbw b Naseem 0 2 0 0 0.00
Alex Hales c Zadran b Naveen 12 9 1 1 133.33
Colin Munro c Naseem b Nawaz 63 29 5 4 217.24
Shadab Khan c Yasir b Iftikhar 8 4 0 1 200.00
Mubasir Khan c Iftikhar b Umaid 5 7 1 0 71.42
Azam Khan c Yasir b Umaid 35 25 2 2 140.00
Asif Ali b Nawaz 6 9 1 0 66.66
Faheem Ashraf not out 39 31 6 0 125.80
Hasan Ali c Smith b Umaid 1 2 0 0 50.00
Rumman Raees not out 0 0 0 0 -
EXTRAS (LB-5, NB-1, W-8) 14
TOTAL (for eight wickets, 19.3 overs) 182
DID NOT BAT: Fazalhaq Farooqi
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-0 (Gurbaz), 2-52 (Hales), 3-96 (Shadab), 4-96 (Munro), 5-102 (Mubasir ), 6-111 (Asif), 7-169 (Azam), 8-171 (Hasan)
BOWLING: Naseem 4-0-28-1 (1w), Smith 2.3-0-40-0 (2w), Umaid 4-0-37-3 (1w), Naveen 4-0-37-1 (1nb), Iftikhar 1-0-19-1, Nawaz 4-0-17-2
RESULT: Islamabad United won by two wickets.
Current Standings (Tabulated under: teams, matches, wins, lost, points, net run-rate)
Lahore 7 6 1 12 +1.321
Islamabad 7 5 2 10 -0.093
Multan 7 4 3 8 +0.568
Peshawar 6 3 3 6 -0.896
Karachi 8 2 6 4 +0.437
Quetta 7 1 6 2 -1.580
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2023
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