HBL Pakistan Super League: Nerveless Nafay defies Qalandars as Gladiators cruise to another win

Published February 20, 2024
KHAWAJA Nafay of Quetta Gladiators plays a shot through the on-side during the HBL Pakistan Super League match against Lahore Qalandars at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday.—Murtaza Ali
KHAWAJA Nafay of Quetta Gladiators plays a shot through the on-side during the HBL Pakistan Super League match against Lahore Qalandars at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday.—Murtaza Ali

LAHORE: The occasion hardly overwhelmed Kha­waja Nafay. Playing only his second HBL Pakistan Super League match, the 22-year-old youngster from Karachi showed immense composure and calculated aggression to help Quetta Gladiators fly past Lahore Qalandars here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday.

The right-hander crui­sed to an unbeaten 61 off 31 balls with the help of four fours and three sixes as the Gladiators won by five wickets for their second victory of the tournament.

Nafay, who rose to prominence as a T20 product through uploading videos of his batting in local matches on social media platforms, played like a true professional as he mixed a range of outrageous strokes with brilliant rotation of strike.

His innings cancelled out Sahibzada Farhan’s half century and Jahandad Khan’s blitz, which had boosted the Qalandars to 187-7.

Nafay leveraged the platform set by an opening partnership of 69 between Jason Roy (24 off 19) and Saud Shakeel (40 off 23) — 61 of those runs coming in the powerplay — which saw some absolutely stunning shots played by the pair.

After the openers’ dismissals, which came in the space of four balls, the Gladiators lost crucial wickets in captain Rilee Rossouw, Sarfraz Ahmed and Sherfane Rutherford.

But that did not affect Nafay, who took on pacer Haris Rauf for a scoop over fine leg and a sizzling upper cut for sixes to start with. He smashed spinner Salman Fayyaz through the covers for his second boundary.

The wickets kept coming for the Qalandars as Rutherford was next to go but Nafay was easing the Gladiators towards the target and brought up his half century in 27 balls after picking up Shaheen for his third six and dispatching Haris for another boundary.

He finished off the chase with another four on the first ball off the final over off Zaman.

Earlier, Jahandad and Farhan’s excelled on a surface that helped movement and grip. Jahandad, who was picked for the PSL due to his impressive show as a fast bowler, demonstrated his utility as a power-hitter with an unbeaten 45 off 17 balls as he left-hander smashed three fours and four sixes with his unorthodox batting style.

The left-hander came into bat when Qalandars were struggling to break the shackles at 62-2. Sent high up the order, Jahandad pulled a surprise when he launched spinner Abrar Ahmed for three sizzling sixes in the 16th over after having announced his arrival with a boundary off Mohammad Hasnain.

Demonstrating outrageous wrist work and hardly moving his feet, the 20-year-old from Rawalpindi cleared the boundary with a slog-sweep, a straight hit and one over long-on off Abrar.

He deposited Hasnain for another six over deep mid-wicket in the 18th over and punished Mohammad Wasim Jr’s wayward delivery for his last boundary in the final over.

Jahandad’s innings was built on the base provided by opener Farhan’s 62 off 43 — the knock featuring six fours and half as many sixes and coming at a time when runs weren’t coming easy for the Qalandars.

The home side had lost Fakhar Zaman early off Akeal Hosein and managed only 43 runs in the powerplay. Farhan had kept the scoreboard ticking in the first six overs and took on Abrar for a boundary through the off-side and a perfectly-middled slog-sweep for six in the seventh over.

Dubbed as a “mystery spinner” Abrar decieved Rassie van der Dussen to clean up the South African. Qalandars were 67-2 at the halfway stage.

Farhan was gifted a second life when Hasnain failed to hold on to a regulation catch at third-man to after the right-hander had pulled magnificently for his sixth boundary on the previous ball by Wasim. He brought up his fifty in 39 balls in the next over.

Farhan played two back to back stupendous pick-up shots off Hasnain in the 13th over before finding the fielder at cover on the next ball before it was all about Jahandad.

SCOREBOARD

LAHORE QALANDARS:

Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Sahibzada Farhan c Nafay b Hasnain 62 43 6 3 144.18

Fakhar Zaman c Roy b Hosein 6 9 0 0 66.66

Rassie van der Dussen b Abrar 15 16 2 0 93.75

Abdullah Shafique c Sarfraz b Hosein 11 10 0 1 110.00

Jahandad Khan not out 45 17 3 4 264.70

Sikandar Raza c Roy b Amir 18 12 1 1 150.00

Carlos Brathwaite c Roy b Hasnain 6 3 1 0 200.00

Shaheen Shah Afridi c Sarfraz b Wasim 12 8 1 1 150.00

Salman Fayyaz not out 2 2 0 0 100.00

EXTRAS (LB-5, W-5) 10

TOTAL (for seven wickets, 20 overs) 187

DID NOT BAT: Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-9 (Fakhar), 2-62 (van der Dussen), 3-99 (Farhan), 4-103 (Abdullah), 5-148 (Raza), 6-160 (Brathwaite), 7-178 (Shaheen)

BOWLING: Hosein 4-0-17-2, Amir 4-0-33-1 (2w), Wasim 4-0-42-1, Hasnain 4-0-50-2 (1w), Abrar 4-0-40-1 (1w)

QUETTA GLADIATORS:

Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Jason Roy b Raza 24 19 4 0 126.31

Saud Shakeel b Zaman 40 23 7 1 173.91

Khawaja Nafay not out 60 31 4 3 193.54

Rilee Rossouw c Jahandad b Haris 18 13 3 0 138.46

Sarfraz Ahmed c Shaheen b Salman 11 8 1 0 137.50

Sherfane Rutherford b Shaheen 14 12 1 0 116.66

Akeal Hosein not out 9 9 0 0 100.00

EXTRAS (LB-2, W-10) 12

TOTAL (for five wickets, 19.1 overs) 188

DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Wasim, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Amir, Abrar Ahmed

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-69 (Saud), 2-72 (Roy), 3-101 (Rossouw), 4-130 (Sarfraz), 5-164 (Rutherford)

BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-38-1 (2w), Haris 4-0-47-1 (3w), Zaman 3.1-0-27-1 (3w), Jahandad 2-0-22-0, Salman 3-0-27-1 (1w), Raza 3-0-25-1 (1w)

RESULT: Quetta Gladiators won by five wickets.

PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Khawaja Nafay

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2024

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