KARACHI: The Quetta Gladiators all but made an ignominious exit from the playoffs race in the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 after Peshawar Zalmi completed a convincing victory by a margin of 61 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.
Chasing a tall target of 198, Quetta began their chase on a promising note through a partnership of 62 between Usman (28 off 23 balls) and Saim Ayub — who had been drafted into the playing XI as a concussion replacement for Faf du Plessis — before the familiar rot set in for the 2019 PSL champions, who slumped to a sorry-looking 136-9. It was their sixth loss in seven matches of this PSL.
Saim followed Usman soon back to the dugout for a bright 35 from 31 deliveries. The left-hander’s dismissal prompted a collapse from which Quetta could never recover. Gangling pacer Mohammad Irfan put the game firmly in Peshawar’s grasp with three telling blows in his final over.
After forcing Saim into giving Fabien Allen catching practice, Irfan induced the much-trumpeted Azam Khan to hole straight down the lap of Umaid Asif inside the deep square leg boundary for a three-ball duck. Irfan ended a brilliant spell by uprooting Cameron Delport’s off stump.
Umaid heaped further miseries on the Quetta camp by emulating Irfan’s two-in-two feat in the very next over, which was his first of the spell, as Jake Weatherald — the top-scorer with 43 during the mismatch against Islamabad United just 24 hours earlier — was well taken behind the stumps by wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal for 13, before Mohammad Nawaz went for a golden duck.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, the beleaguered Quetta captain, had watched the abject surrender from his batsmen in deep anguish with an apparent look of sheer anger on his face. In the end, he couldn’t do anything other than to ensure that his side batted through the innings. He was the top-scorer with an unbeaten 36 from 28 balls, but it was not enough to enable Quetta to save their skin.
Earlier, Peshawar batted like potential champions as the 2017 title winners bounced back from a horrendous start to collect an imposing tally of 197-5 after Sarfaraz — like most captains in this PSL — chose to bowl first after the toss in the hope of chasing runs. His decision seemed vindicated upfront as Haider Ali swept the opening delivery of the game from Nawaz towards square leg fence where substitute Usman Khan Shinwari completed a simple catch.
Nawaz struck again in his second when Shoaib Malik got himself in a tangle and attempted to pull the slow left-armer over midwicket but only succeeded in skying the ball to Zahir.
At 10-2, Quetta were on top but their joy was short-lived as Kamran and David Miller, in particular, went on a rampage with the ball flying in all directions. The right-and-left batting duo attacked as if their lives depended on it. And the ploy paid off handsomely as the third-wicket partnership produced 125 runs from just 72 deliveries.
Miller was in a belligerent mood as the South African — who will shortly head for the Caribbean for his country’s five-match Twenty International series against the West Indies — belted four sixes and six fours in scoring 73 off only 46 balls in a man-of-the-match performance.
Kamran, in the meantime, crunched six boundaries and a brace of sixes in making a 37-ball 59.–Dawn