QUETTA Gladiators opener Jason Roy plays a shot during the HBL Pakistan Super League match against Karachi Kings at the National Bank Stadium on Thursday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star
QUETTA Gladiators opener Jason Roy plays a shot during the HBL Pakistan Super League match against Karachi Kings at the National Bank Stadium on Thursday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star

KARACHI: The stands here at the National Bank Stadium were more densely filled than they were a day ago and excitement had filled the air. Karachi Kings, despite half of their squad suffering from food poisoning, still showed up.

The home side, starting from a point of disadvanta­ge with some of their main players missing out, punc­hed above their weig­ht and had Quetta Gladiators well under their control but the West Indies pair of Sherfane Rutherford and Akeal Hosein had other plans.

The Gladiators needed 80 off the last eight overs with five wickets in hand when Hosein joined Ruth­erford. What followed was a show of immense power by the two left-handers.

After captain Rilee Ros­souw’s departure, Ruthe­rford and Hosein hit a six each in the space of five balls to ease the pressure on Quetta as they needed 44 off 24 balls.

Rutherford dispatched Hasan to the top of the roof over the stands on square-leg before picking pacer Blessing Muzarabani up and over wide long-on for another maximum.

He slapped Hasan for another six in the penultimate over before clearing the long-off boundary for two more sixes off Anwar Ali in the final over.

Still needing to defend three off four balls, Anwar bowled two well directed yorkers for dots. He followed it up with a low full toss and Rutherford slashed it to backward point, where it was fielded brilliantly.

It probably wouldn’t even be a single in a normal situation, but Rutherford stole two off the delivery, as chaos unfolded on the pitch with Anwar desperately blocking his way. The Guyanese went on to flick for four to take the Gladiators across the finish line for a five-wicket win.

The base for the chase accomplished by Ruthe­rford (58 off 31) and Hosein (22 off 17) was laid by ope­ner Jason Roy’s 52 off 31 as the Englishman was the only Gladiators batter to take the attack onto the Kings.

Roy twice cleared long-on for sixes against Moha­mmad Nawaz and creamed the spinner through square on the off-side for four in the third over.

His opening partner Saud Shakeel, however, fell on the last ball of the powerplay; the left-hander finding Irfan Khan Niazi at square off Hasan after the right-armer was pulled for six by Roy.

Khawaja Nafay fell in the ninth over as he found Irfan’s bucket hands at long-on off Zahid Mahmood’s leg-spin before wicket-keeper Tim Seifert’s acrobatic effort down the leg-side in the next over saw Sarfraz Ahmed get caught off Hasan.

The right-armer spoiled the breakthrough with a no-ball to follow it up and got launched over square-leg by Roy for six on the subsequent free hit as the batter brought up his 50 in 27 balls as the Gladiators’ scorecard read 83-3 at halfway stage.

Shoaib Malik then provided the major breakthro­ugh; the veteran off-spinner forcing a top-edge off Roy and grabbing the catch himself in the 12th over. Rossouw lost his patience and became Zahid’s first victim as he found Irfan at the wide long-on boundary, leaving the match inclined towards the Kings before Rutherford and Hosein took it away.

After being put into bat earlier, the Kings got off to a decent start but the spin trio of Usman Tariq, Hosein and Abrar Ahmed made good use of the surface’s slowness to keep the hosts from finding rhythm.

Usman, with his unorthodox bowling style — a precise run-up followed by a pause and throw — in particular, was almost unplayable for the Karachi batters as he registered figures of 2-16 in four overs without conceding a single boundary.

He bagged the crucial wickets of Karachi opener Seifert and first-drop James Vince after they had put up 57 off 36 balls together following the early dismissal of captain Shan Masood by Hosein.

None of the Karachi batters could make a stand out difference after Seifert and Vince’s departure, but each of them made small contributions to push the team to a competitive total.

Vince ensured Karachi didn’t go on the back foot , notably dispatching Abrar for three fours in a row as they ended the powerplay at 61-1.

But Usman’s trapped Seifert (21 off 11) lbw with one that sharply turned inwards to strike the right-hander’s pads on the first ball and did the same to Vince (37 off 25) on the last ball of the over.

The wickets took Karachi to the back foot but Nawaz crunched pacer Moha­m­mad Wasim Jr for three fou­rs in a row to take his team to 91-3 at halfway stage.

Malik holed Abrar out to Rossouw before Nawaz (28) cut Hosein right into the hands of Abrar. Abrear cleaned up Pollard and got Hasan caught before Anwar glided Wasim for a four and slapped the bowler for two powerful hits for sixes in the final over to set up a last-ball finish.

SCOREBOARD

KARACHI KINGS:

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

Shan Masood b Hosein 2 3 0 0 66.66

Tim Seifert lbw b Usman 21 11 2 1 190.90

James Vince lbw b Usman 37 25 8 0 148.00

Shoaib Malik c Roy b Abrar 12 20 0 0 60.00

Mohammad Nawaz c Abrar b Hosein 28 19 4 0 147.36

Kieron Pollard b Abrar 13 10 0 1 130.00

Irfan Khan c Roy b Wasim 15 10 1 1 150.00

Hasan Ali c Hosein b Abrar 2 2 0 0 100.00

Anwar Ali not out 25 14 1 2 178.57

Zahid Mahmood not out 3 6 0 0 50.00

EXTRAS (LB-2, W-5) 7

TOTAL (for eight wickets, 20 overs) 165

DID NOT BAT: Blessing Muzarabani

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-2 (Shan), 2-61 (Seifert), 3-64 (Vince), 4-103 (Malik), 5-113 (Nawaz), 6-134 (Pollard), 7-136 (Hasan), 8-138 (Irfan)

BOWLING: Hosein 4-0-34-2, Sohail 4-0-36-0, Abrar 4-0-31-3, Wasim 4-0-46-1 (1w), Usman 4-0-16-2 (4w)

QUETTA GLADIATORS:

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

Jason Roy c & b Malik 52 31 2 4 167.74

Saud Shakeel c Irfan b Hasan 24 20 4 0 120.00

Khawaja Nafay c Irfan b Zahid 2 6 0 0 33.33

Sarfraz Ahmed c Seifert b Hasan 3 6 0 0 50.00

Rilee Rossouw c Irfan b Zahid 6 10 1 0 60.00

Sherfane Rutherford not out 58 31 1 6 187.09

Akeal Hosein not out 22 17 1 1 129.41

EXTRAS (1w, 1nb) 2

TOTAL (for five wickets, 20 overs) 169

DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Wasim, Abrar Ahmed, Usman Tariq, Sohail Khan

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-57 (Saud), 2-70 (Khawaja), 3-75 (Sarfraz), 4-89 (Roy), 5-89 (Rossouw)

BOWLING: Nawaz 3-0-36-0, Muzarabani 4-0-30-0 (2w), Anwar 2-0-28-0 (1w), Hasan 4-0-39-2 (1nb), Zahid 4-0-17-2, Malik 3-0-19-1

RESULT: Quetta Gladiators won by five wickets.

PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Sherfane Rutherford

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2024

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