RAWALPINDI: As one of the world’s most dangerous batters in white-ball cricket, a destructive innings was due on Jason Roy in the HBL Pakistan Super league this season. To the horror of Peshawar Zalmi, when it finally arrived, it was with them at the receiving end.
With skipper Babar Azam leading them from the front with his maiden PSL century to give Quetta Gladiators a mammoth 241 to chase, Zalmi couldn’t have done more to confirm a spot in the playoffs.
But what Roy did to them — an unbeaten 145 off 63 balls — kept the Gladiators alive in the league instead, as they went on to win it by eight wickets with 10 balls to spare here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
It was the highest-ever chase in the history of the competition and Quetta’s 40 boundaries — 30 fours and 10 sixes — were the most hit in a PSL match ever.
Zalmi now find themselves in hot waters, having to win two potentially tough fixtures against Islamabad United and Multan Sultans. With hope that the Peshawar outfit falters in both, the Gladiators would need to ensure they register a victory in their final league match against the Sultans.
With Roy in their camp, they would be feeling confident about doing the needful.
The Englishman hit 20 fours and five sixes in his knock and the first of those boundaries was a backfoot drive through the covers against Arshad Khan’s pace. Once Roy was away, he never applied the brakes.
After Martin Guptill had lofted Arshad down the ground for the Gladiators’ first six, Roy cut Mujeeb-ur-Rehman’s finger spin for another four before launching the Afghanistan spinner to clear the boundary for the first time in the match.
Roy lost his partner Guptill after the pair had found three more boundaries against Wahab Riaz’s pace in the third over to give the veteran his first wicket.
The loss did not slow down the Gladiators and first drop Will Smeed started off with two boundaries against Zalmi quick Azmatullah Omarzai in the fourth over, which also saw Roy contribute equally.
Roy 50 in just 22 balls with a six over square leg off Arshad in the sixth over as the Gladiators posted 88-1 by the end of the powerplay. With two more boundaries off Mujeeb, Roy took the Gladiators past the 100-run mark in the seventh over.
Mujeeb dropped Smeed off his own bowling in the 10th over and the right-hander before Roy lofted medium-pacer Aamer Jamal over the covers for another six in the 11th over before Smeed (26 off 22) fell prey to an extraordinary fielding effort by Mohammad Haris at deep midwicket.
The incoming Mohammad Hafeez drove Wahab through extra cover to get off the mark before connecting perfectly to pull the pacer over midwicket for a six in the 13th over.
Roy reached his hundred off just 44 balls with a double off Omarzai in the next over. He played a reverse ramp shot for another boundary off Aamer before lifting him over long-on for a six
Hafeez got into the act with four fours off Arshad in the 16th over before Roy showed immense precision to get as many boundaries in the next over off Wahab.
Roy reached his highest T20 score of 136 with a slice over backward point for another four off Aamer before Hafeez (41 not out off 18) finished off the over with another boundary and a six over long-off. Roy sealed victory with a six off Arshad that sailed over the long-off boundary.
Earlier, after opting to bat first, Babar and his opening partner Saim Ayub put on display a partnership that oozed class from both ends. The Zalmi opening pair showed off a range of strokes — both classical and modern — in an 81-run collaboration for 162 runs.
Saim, dropped twice during his knock, went on to plunder the Gladiators bowlers for five sixes and six fours before eventually getting caught for 74 off 34 balls. Babar, meanwhile, smashed 15 fours and three sixes in his innings of 115 off 65 balls.
When Babar started off with a signature cover drive against Naseem Shah’s pace in the first over, it looked like the Pakistan captain was in top form. He proved that when he flicked fast bowler Aimal Khan off his hips and placed the youngster off the backfoot twice to find boundaries on all three occasions.
Saim got his first reprieve when he was dropped by Naseem at mid-on off Mohammad Hasnain in the third over. The left-hander opened his arms with a paddle-scoop for a boundary before smashing Dwaine Pretorius over the off side for a six.
The youngster pulled Hasnain effortlessly for another maximum before Babar dispatched the right-armer towards the leg side and through the covers again for two more boundaries as Zalmi posted 67-0 by the end of the powerplay.
Saim showed his expertise against spin with two slog sweeps against Mohammad Nawaz — the left-arm spinner leading the Gladiators in Sarfraz Ahmed’s absence — to clear the square leg boundary twice to bring up his half century in just 24 balls.
Babar, who became more of a spectator from the other end after the powerplay, reached his 50 with a six straight over Pretorius’ head and used his deft touch to beat the third man fielder on the next ball for another boundary as Zalmi’s scorecard read 110-0 at the halfway stage.
The Zalmi captain welcomed Aimal back into the attack with another exquisite cover drive for four before Saim advanced down the track to find another boundary and played his trademark no-look scoop for six.
Saim was given yet another reprieve when Smeed dropped his catch at the square leg boundary as the ball bounced off his palms to go for a six but was finally caught when he failed to clear the infield off a slower one by Pretorius.
After the incoming Rovman Powell had lifted Nawaz high and long over long-on in the 15th over, Babar brought up his century with a gorgeous cover drive off Naseem in the 18th over, also taking Zalmi past 200.
Babar was assisted by another poor fielding effort by Smeed at long-off to get another six but was run out on the first ball of the final over, which saw the incoming Tom Kohler-Cadmore lift Aimal for a long six before Powell (35 off 18) bludgeoned the pacer for two more boundaries.
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Saim Ayub c Nawaz b Pretorius 74 34 6 5 217.64
Babar Azam run out 115 65 15 3 176.92
Rovman Powell not out 35 18 3 2 194.44
Tom Kohler-Cadmore not out 7 3 0 1 233.33
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-8) 9
TOTAL (for two wickets, 20 overs) 240
DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Haris, Haseebullah Khan, Aamer Jamal, Wahab Riaz, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Arshad Iqbal
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-162 (Saim), 2-224 (Babar)
BOWLING: Naseem 4-0-39-0, Aimal 3-0-47-0 (2w), Hasnain 4-0-57-0 (2w), Pretorius 4-0-40-1 (3w), Nawaz 3-0-36-0, Hafeez 2-0-20-0
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Jason Roy not out 145 63 20 5 230.15
Martin Guptill c & b Wahab 21 8 3 1 262.50
Will Smeed c Haris b Mujeeb 26 22 1 2 118.18
Mohammad Hafeez not out 41 18 6 2 227.77
EXTRAS (LB-3, NB-1, W-6) 10
TOTAL (for two wickets, 18.2 overs) 243
STILL TO BAT: Mohammad Nawaz, Iftikhar Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Dwaine Pretorius, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Aimal Khan
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-41 (Guptill), 2-150 (Smeed)
BOWLING: Arshad 3-0-55-0 (1nb), Mujeeb 4-0-38-1 (1w), Wahab 4-0-56-1 (1w), Omarzai 3.2-0-35-0 (2w), Aamer 4-0-56-0 (2w)
RESULT: Quetta Gladiators won by eight wickets.
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2023
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