SHARJAH: Spinner Muhammad Nawaz defended 7 runs off last six and then two runs off last three deliveries to snatch a certain win from Peshawar Zalmi’s jaws and send Quetta Gladiators to the final of Pakistan Super League.
With Zalmi chasing 201, the team looked certain to win the first playoff, but they just couldn’t keep their nerves in control off last over and failed to score required 7 runs.
Captain Darren Sammy scored 5 off first three deliveries, but the next three deliveries had something else in the bag. Chris Jordan was caught behind on 4th, while Wahab Riaz and Hassan Ali were run out on 5th and 6th delivery of the over as Gladiators won the game by one run.
Before the breathtaking final over, tremendous batting display by Muhammad Hafeez and Dawid Malan, and entertaining batting by Shahid Afridi had brought Zalmi near to victory.
Chasing a mammoth target of 201 in 20 overs, Zalmi got a devastating start by losing two top wickets of Kamran Akmal and Marlon Samuels with just three runs on the board in two overs.
But then, the former T20i captain of Pakistan Muhammad Hafeez along with Dawid Malan orchestrated the fight back for Zalmis and added 139 runs for the third wicket in 72 deliveries.
Hafeez six sixes and five boundaries to score brilliant 77 from 47 deliveries before being caught by Saad Naseem near the boundary line at covers off Muhammad Nawaz’s delivery.
Dawid Malan scored 56 from 29 deliveries, smashing one six and stroking eight shots towards the fence before being caught and bowled by Tymal Mills on a slower one.
Shahid Afridi smashed four sixes and one four to score 34 off 13 deliveries before being caught by Muhammad Nawaz near the boundary line.
Earlier, dynamic batting display by Ahmad Shahzad and Kevin Pietersen provided Quetta Gladiators with a solid base to post 200 runs, after being invited by Zalmi captain Darren Sammy to bat first.
The duo added quick-fire 90 runs for the second wicket in 7 overs after the team lost opener Luke Wright with 31 runs on the board in three overs.
Shahzad smashed four sixes and seven boundaries to score 38-ball-71 with batting strike rate of 186.84. Kevin Pietersen scored 40 off 22 deliveries, his innings included three sixes and two fours.
The flying start by Quetta Gladiators top order helped team score 121/2 in ten overs and, at one time, they were looking to post a mammoth total of over 225.
But following the wickets of Shahzad and Pietersen, Gladiators couldn’t keep the momentum going and could score mere 79 runs, losing five wickets in the second half of their innings.
Zalmi won the toss and elected to field first. Captain Darren Sammy at the toss said, “Hopefully, we can restrict them to a good total like we have done before.
He said that the teams that finished on top have two bites of the cherry but he wants to go through with one.
Sarfraz Ahmed said that he is looking at a 170-ish total. He said that the team is well prepared.
Some quick runs by Anwar Ali towards the end of Quetta’s innings took the team’s total to 200/6 at the end of innings. Anwar scored 20 off 10 deliveries with the help of three boundaries.
Wahab Riaz claimed three wickets, conceding 40 runs from four overs while Hassan Ali and Darren Sammy got one wicket apiece.
With Gladiators becoming the first team to qualify for the final of Pakistan Super League, Zalmi will have to wait till Wednesday evening to find-out who is going to be their opponent in the third play-off on Friday in Dubai.
The second play-off will be played on Wednesday between defending champions Islamabad United and Karachi Kings, the winner of the second playoff will play Zalmi in the third play-off to decide Gladiators’ opponent in the final of PSL, which will be held in Lahore on March 5th.
The playoff seemed a repeat telecast of the first edition when both the team had met in first play-off with same standings in the league and then got the same result… Quetta beating Peshawar by one run.