RAWALPINDI: Once Usman Khan got in the groove after a tentative start, there was no stopping him. The 27-year-old Multan Sultans opener plundered the fastest century in the history of the Pakistan Super League history, his exploits helping his side post the highest-ever total ever and ending his former side Quetta Gladiators’ hopes of reaching the playoffs.
It was devastating, it was breathtaking. It was pure carnage for Gladiators at the Pindi Stadium on Saturday, their bowlers being whipped to all sides of the ground by Usman, who reached his century off 36 deliveries before eventually getting stumped off a wide delivery after making 120 off 43 balls.
The impetus given to Sultans by Usman, who didn’t get a chance to play a single game last season and was only making his first appearance this time around, helped them post 262-3 with captain Mohammad Rizwan making 55 and sharing a 157-run opening stand. There was a time when the Sultans seemed poised for a score in excess of 270 only for the Gladiators to dry up the boundaries in the last few overs for big-hitters Tim David (43 not out) and Kieron Pollard (23 not out).
But it came too late for the Gladiators, who needed a victory to stay in contention for the playoffs till the last round of the league matches on Sunday. Their chase seemed to fizzle early on with big-hitting openers Jason Roy and Martin Guptill departing inside the powerplay only for Omair Yousuf (67), playing for the first time this season like Usama, and Iftikhar Ahmed (53) reviving their hopes with some lusty blows.
The game seemed over after both fell in the space of four deliveries but Umar Akmal and Mohammad Nawaz kept the flame flickering until a hat-trick by Abbas Afridi (5-47) ended the match as a contest with Sultans eventually winning the most high-scoring competitive T20 match of all time by nine runs.
Almost two years ago, Usman had made a sparkling 81 on his PSL debut for the Gladiators. He played six matches that season before slipping away into oblivion. Inserted in place of Shan Masood for the game, with Sultans already through to the playoffs but looking to push into the top two, he made a sensational return.
Brutal off his front foot, he tore into the Gladiators attack and was particularly severe on Qais Ahmed, hitting him for 27 each in his first two overs; launching three sixes and two fours in each of them. The Afghan spinner got the unwanted record of the most expensive figures in the history of the competition, returning 2-77 in his four overs.
Playing all over the park, Usman had reduced Rizwan’s role to a mere spectator as Sultans finished the powerplay at 91-0. He gave an exhibition of his 360-degree play in Qais’ second over when he heaved him down the ground for a six and then reverse-swept him for four past third man.
It was raining sixes and fours and Rizwan got on the act with his first six in the 10th over, clubbing Aimal Khan over square leg before Usman fell on the first ball of the 11th over to Mohammad Nawaz, Gladiators’ stand-in skipper in place of the injured Sarfraz Ahmed.
Rilee Rossouw, whose fastest-century record was broken by Usman, continued the onslaught, hammering Nawaz for a six and four to finish off the over. Returning to bowl his third over, Qais was hit for six by Rizwan but he finally had something to smile when he had Rossouw caught at gully for 15.
Rizwan became Qais’ other victim in the 15th over, falling soon after reaching his half-century, holing out in the deep after hitting six fours and two sixes in his 29-ball knock. That over — Qais’ last — had started and ended with sixes by David.
But the boundary count came down in the last five overs. David would get only two more sixes in his 25-ball innings, which also saw one four. Pollard, who played 14 deliveries, hit a six and two fours.
Gladiators suffered an early blow with Roy perishing in the second over, having hit Anwar Ali for a six off the previous delivery.
Their hopes rested on Guptill getting a big score and although he hit four sixes and two fours, the New Zealander was caught behind off Ihsanullah for a 14-ball 37 with Mohammad Hafeez falling shortly afterwards.
Omair and Iftikhar got stuck in with a 104-run stand; meting out the same treatment to Sultans bowlers as the one received by their own bowlers.
Omair, who smacked seven fours and three sixes in his 36-ball stay, hit Ihsan for three successive boundaries in the 11th over as he reached his half-century. Iftikhar, meanwhile, wreaked havoc against the spinners — hitting Izhar-ul-Haq Naveed and Usama Mir for plenty.
But when Iftikhar fell, finding substitute Shan off Abbas after hitting four sixes and as many fours in 31 balls, it was the start of the end with Omair departing three balls later off Ihsan.
Umar hit a quickfire 28 off 10 balls with three sixes and two boundaries while Nawaz got three fours in a seven-ball 16 with Abbas getting his hat-trick across two overs, bagging the wickets of the duo alongside that of Umaid — all of them trying to go big. Qais and Naveen ended unbeaten on 17 off seven each as the Gladiators fought till the end but the Sultans’ total proved too much.
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Usman Khan st Akmal b Nawaz 120 43 12 9 279.06
Mohammad Rizwan c Omair b Qais 55 29 6 2 189.65
Rilee Rossouw c Nawaz b Qais 15 9 1 1 166.66
Tim David not out 43 25 1 4 172.00
Kieron Pollard not out 23 14 2 1 164.28
EXTRAS (W-6) 6
TOTAL (for three wickets, 20 overs) 262
DID NOT BAT: Khushdil Shah, Anwar Ali, Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Izharulhaq Naveed, Ihsanullah.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-157 (Usman), 2-187 (Rossouw), 3-204 (Rizwan)
BOWLING: Nawaz 4-0-50-1 (2w), Naveen 4-0-41-0 (4w), Aimal 3-0-37-0, Umaid 4-0-49-0, Qais 4-0-77-2, Hafeez 1-0-8-0.
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Jason Roy c Khushdil b Anwar 6 6 0 1 100.00
Martin Guptill c Rizwan b Ihsanullah 37 14 2 4 264.28
Omair Yousuf c Usman b Ihsanullah 67 36 7 3 186.11
Mohammad Hafeez c Rossouw b Abbas 1 2 0 0 50.00
Iftikhar Ahmed c sub (Shan Masood) b Abbas 53 31 4 4 170.96
Umar Akmal c David b Abbas 28 10 2 3 280.00
Mohammad Nawaz c Pollard b Abbas 16 7 3 0 228.57
Umaid Asif c Pollard b Abbas 0 1 0 0 0.00
Qais Ahmed not out 17 7 2 1 242.85
Naveen-ul-Haq not out 17 7 3 0 242.85
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, NB-1, W-8) 11
TOTAL (for eight wickets, 20 overs) 253
DID NOT BAT: Aimal Khan.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-14 (Roy), 2-60 (Guptill), 3-68 (Hafeez), 4-172 (Iftikhar), 5-178 (Omair), 6-208 (Nawaz), 7-208 (Umaid), 8-221 (Akmal),
BOWLING: Khushdil 1-0-6-0 (1w), Anwar 3-0-48-1 (1nb), Izharulhaq 4-0-55-0 (2w), Ihsanullah 4-0-58-2 (1w), Abbas Afridi 4-0-47-5 (2w), Usama 4-0-37-0 (1w).
RESULT: Multan Sultans won by nine runs.
Current Standings (Tabulated under: teams, matches, wins, lost, points, net run-rate)
Lahore 9 7 2 14 +1.494
Multan 10 6 4 12 +0.500
Islamabad 9 6 3 12 -0.713
Peshawar 9 4 5 8 -0.584
Quetta 10 3 7 6 -1.066
Karachi 9 2 7 4 +0.358
Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2023