RAWALPINDI: The stands were empty and the atmosphere was dull here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Monday. After all, much wasn’t expected from the fixture featuring Quetta Gladiators and Karachi Kings — the bottom-two teams of the HBL Pakistan Super League — vying for survival.After the Kings had dragged themselves to a fighting total of 164-6, the Gladiators’ chase was going nowhere as they looked into certain elimination.
But opener Martin Guptill — with the Gladiators captain Sarfraz Ahmed on the other end — had different ideas. With 65 runs needed off the last 27 balls, Guptill went deep into his crease to club Kings pacer Mohammad Amir over midwicket for six.
The New Zealander smashed James Fuller for another humongous six to bring up his 50 and plundered the medium-pacer for three boundaries before finishing off the 17th over with six more.
The powerful right-hander dispatched Mohammad Musa for another maximum with an upper-cut over the wicket-keepers head before Sarfraz got into the act to find a boundary towards square-leg.
Guptill placed Amir through the covers in an otherwise low-scoring penultimate over but the damage was already done. After
Sarfraz sacrificed his wicket when a mix-up between him and Guptill (86 off 56) resulted in a run-out, the incoming Dwaine Pretorius sealed the match with two boundaries off Aamer Yamin in the final over as the Gladiators registered a four-wicket-victory with a ball to spare.
The result left the Kings on the verge of elimination; their hopes resting on Peshawar Zalmi’s clash with Lahore Qalandars on Tuesday. The Quetta outfit, meanwhile, need to win their remaining two matches and hope for Zalmi to falter.
The Gladiators went off to a poor start to their chase with debutant Omair Bin Yousuf and first drop Mohammad Nawaz — promoted up the order with Sarfraz ailing a finger injury — lost their wickets to Yamin and Musa respectively within the powerplay, which saw their team score just 43 runs.
Iftikhar Ahmed, who had replaced Nawaz at the crease, became chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi’s first and the Kings’ third victim, getting trapped lbw as he failed to negotiate a sharp-spinning delivery.
Suffocated for runs, the Gladiators lost their fourth wicket when Najibullah Zadran pulled Shamsi to get caught in the deep in the eighth over before Umar Akmal — who played a blistering cameo against Islamabad United a day earlier — gave his wicket away to medium pacer James Fuller.
With Sarfraz — forced to come to the middle —and Guptill at the crease, the Gladiators needed 101 runs at the halfway stage. Barring two boundaries by the New Zealander in the 12th over, they failed to clear the fence for the next five overs, before Guptill turned up the ante.
After they opted to field first, Naseem Shah gave the Gladiators a breakthrough on the very first ball as Matthew Wade edged a perfect out-swinger for Sarfraz to take an easy catch behind the wickets. The Kings then lost Tayyab Tahir, thanks to the batter faltering against pacer Aimal Khan. But Adam Rossington’s consistently finding the boundary ensured the Kings’ recovered to post 53-2 by the end of the powerplay.
Qasim Akram, playing his first match this season, was the next to depart as he guided Aimal to Naseem at deep third man. With the Gladiators cramped for runs, the incoming Shoaib Malik too lost his wicket, finding Umar in the deep off Nawaz before Rossington, who had hit eight boundaries by then, brought up his 50 in 32 balls.
The burly Englishman took on pacer Pretorius for two more fours in the 13th over before Imad Wasim clubbed Aimal straight down the ground for six and hit the young pacer for two boundaries in a row.
Rossington scooped Naseem audaciously for another six in the 16th over but his time at the crease came to an end when he skied a short ball by pacer Naveen-ul-Haq to get caught for 69 off 45 in the next over.
After Naseem cleaned up Fuller with a brilliant yorker in the 18th over, Yamin launched a huge six off Naveen over square leg before slamming him past cover for four. The veteran all-rounder hit Pretorius over his head for another maximum in the next over as the Kings finished with 164-6.
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 9 2 7 4 +0.358
Quetta 8 2 6 4 -1.344
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Matthew Wade c Sarfraz b Naseem 0 1 0 0 0.00
Adam Rossington c Zadran b Naveen 69 45 10 1 153.33
Tayyab Tahir c Naveen b Aimal 7 12 1 0 58.33
Qasim Akram c Naseem b Aimal 8 10 0 0 80.00
Shoaib Malik c Umar b Nawaz 13 15 1 0 86.66
Imad Wasim not out 30 20 3 1 150.00
James Fuller b Naseem 5 6 1 0 83.33
Aamer Yamin not out 23 11 1 2 209.09
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-2, W-6) 9
TOTAL (for six wickets, 20 overs) 164
DID NOT BAT: Muhammad Musa, Tabraiz Shamsi, Mohammad Amir
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-0 (Wade), 2-25 (Tayyab), 3-58 (Qasim), 4-78 (Malik), 5-124 (Rossington), 6-131 (Fuller)
BOWLING: Naseem 4-0-31-2, Aimal 4-0-26-2, Nawaz 4-0-22-1, Pretorius 4-0-39-0(1w, Naveen 4-0-43-1 (1w)
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Omair Yousuf c Malik b Aamer 8 6 1 0 133.33
Martin Guptill not out 86 56 9 4 153.57
Mohammad Nawaz c & b Musa 15 14 3 0 107.14
Iftikhar Ahmed lbw b Shamsi 4 6 0 0 66.66
Najibullah Zadran c Tayyab b Shamsi 1 3 0 0 33.33
Umar Akmal c Malik b Fuller 9 6 1 0 150.00
Sarfraz Ahmed run out 29 25 1 0 116.00
Dwaine Pretorius not out 10 3 2 0 333.33
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, W-4) 6
TOTAL (for six wickets, 19.5 overs) 168
DID NOT BAT: Naveen-ul-Haq, Naseem Shah, Aimal Khan
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-14 (Omair), 2-37 (Nawaz), 3-48 (Iftikhar), 4-50 (Zadran), 5-63 (Umar), 6-158 (Sarfraz)
BOWLING: Amir 4-0-37-0 (2w), Aamer 2.5-0-21-1, Musa 4-0-44-1 (1w), Fuller 4-0-38-1, Shamsi 4-0-20-2 (1w), Imad 1-0-6-0
RESULT: Quetta Gladiators won by four wickets.
Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2023
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