Quetta Gladiators topple Islamabad United in PSL 7 thriller

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Quetta Gladiators emerged victorious over Islamabad United in a seesaw battle Saturday in the 18th match of the Pakistan Super League’s seventh edition at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Chasing a target of 200 runs, United bowlers did a good job to squeeze the Gladiators batsmen as the asking rate reached over 14 runs per over in the last four overs. However, Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmad and Umar Akmal, who returned to the PSL action after a break of three years, turned the tide in their team’s favour by hitting some glorious big shots.

However, Akmal was out in the 19th over after playing a sensational innings of 23 runs off just eight balls hitting three sixes.

That left eight runs to win in the last over. Hasan Ali started the over with a wide ball and Sarfaraz and James Faulkner could take three singles on the next three balls. Sarfaraz however hit two consecutive boundaries on the next two balls to finish off the innings and also completed his fifty in the process.

Galdiators captain remained unbeaten for his 50 runs off 32 balls hitting three fours and two sixes to give his team a five-wicket victory.

Opener Jason Roy once again flexed his muscles and added a half century in his second innings of this season to the century he made in the first match he played. Roy scored 54 runs off 27 balls hitting 10 boundaries and a six.

Ahsan Ali made 30 and Umar James Vince made 29.

For United, Shadab Khan continued his golden touch with the leather as took three wickets for 25 runs. Liam Dawson (1-30) and M Wasim (1-61) were other wicket-takers.

A quickfire late half century by Faheem Ashraf helped his team to reach a formidable-looking total of 199-8 against Quetta Gladiators.

Quetta Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmad won the toss and elected to field first. United were off to a fiery start with Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Alex Hales started punishing the bowlers right from the word go. However, Nasim Shah cut short Gurbaz innings when the later dragged a ball to his stumps. He made 19 runs off 13 balls hitting a six and two fours.

However, Hales continued to his blasting bets and United finished the powerplay scoring 58 runs for the loss of one wicket. Hales soon reached his half century off just 32 balls while new batsman Shadab Khan just played a supporting role mostly rotating the strike.

United reached 100 runs mark at the end of the 10th over before their progress was severely damaged by all-rounder Shahid Khan Afridi.

Afridi rolled back years with the ball as he finished his four overs spell for 2-27 and took both wickets in his last over.

Afridi picked all-important wicket of United captain Shadab Khan and removed M Akhlaq. His huge appeal against Hales also led to a mix up that ended in Hales being run out in the same over. Hales was out after scoring 62 runs off 38 balls and hitting four sixes and as many fours in his innings.

In the first ball of very next over, Afridi’s direct hit also ended the short stay of Azam Khan on the crease.

It may be mentioned that Afridi started his PSL 7 campaign in Karachi leg after recovering from Covid-19 against the same opponents and was brutally assaulted by United batsmen as leaked out 67 runs in his four overs and took one wicket.

Quetta’s debutant Noor Ahmad picked the important wicket of Asif Ali and things started looking gloomy for United after an unceremonious middle-order collapse. However, Faheem had other ideas.

He did not take any pressure and started slaying Gladiators bowlers without care. He raced to his half century in just 25 balls before being removed by James Faulkner. He scored 55 runs off 28 balls hitting four sixes and five boundaries.

Afridi and Faulkner took two wickets each while Naseem and Noor took one wicket each.