QUETTA (Monitoring Desk): Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Quetta Gladiators on Sunday defeated Peshawar Zalmi by three runs in a last-ball thriller in a Pakistan Super League (PSL) exhibition match at Quetta’s Nawab Akbar Bugti Cricket Stadium.
Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s impoverished southwestern Balochistan province, has not seen a cricket match in several years owing to the province’s precarious security situation. Separatist groups, who demand independence from Pakistan, have mounted attacks on the country’s security forces in recent weeks.
Thousand of cricket fans watched the action live as Pakistan captain Babar Azam donned the yellow colors of the Peshawar Zalmi for the first time and led the franchise against Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Quetta Gladiators.
Set a target to chase 185 runs, the Gladiators managed to score an impressive 181-7 and needed four runs off the last ball before Naseem Shah was able to steal the match away with a dot ball.
“It was one cracker of a game,” Quetta Gladiators wrote on Twitter. “This victory is for our fans,” it added.
Batting first, the Gladiators’ impressive performance was spearheaded by middle-order batter Iftikhar Ahmed, who remained unbeaten on 94 from 50 balls while Abdul Wahid Bangalzai scored 28 runs from 19 balls.
The highlight of the match was the last over of the Gladiators’ innings when Ahmed hit Wahab Riaz for six sixes. Riaz proved to be the pick of the Zalmi bowlers though, finishing with figures of 3/47 at the end.
For Zalmi, Muhammad Haris smashed 53 off 35 balls while Shahid Afridi scored 25 from 17 balls. Muhammad Hasnain ended up with figures of 3/30 while Ahmed also performed well with the ball, taking two wickets.
The PSL, Pakistan’s own professional cricket league, will see its eighth edition kick off from February 13 when defending champions Lahore Qalandars take on the Multan Sultans in Multan. The PSL, arguably Pakistan’s biggest sports event, will see cricket action in Karachi, Multan, Lahore, and Rawalpindi before it concludes on March 19.
Quetta Gladiators: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Ahsan Ali, Bismillah Khan, Umar Akmal, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Aimal Khan, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Umaid Asif, Abdul Wahid Bangalzai
Peshawar Zalmi: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Haris, Saim Ayub, Haseebullah, Azam Khan, Aamir Jamal, Usama Mir, Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Salman Irshad