LAHORE: In a battle of attrition, defending champions Peshawar Zalmi proved to be the true warriors when they came from the brink to not only overpower the fighting Quetta Gladiators but also booked a date with the Karachi Kings in the second eliminator to be played at the same venue today (Wednesday).
With this sensational one run win in the first eliminator of the Pakistan Super League at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday night, Zalmi now have Kings in the way to have a face-off with the Islamabad United in the final to be played in Karachi on March 25.
In this act of sensation, the Gladiators required 25 runs to win in the last over with Anwar Ali facing Lime Dawson. The Gladiators tail-ender smacked one four and three sixes before his partner Mir Hamza got run out on the last ball when three runs were required to win. In their second run attempt, Hamza was found way out of crease in a near miss effort.
Zalmi fought back well after they were asked to bat first by Gladiators’ skipper Sarfraz Ahmed. In overcast conditions that halted the match at the start, Zalmi built on from five down at 86 to get 157 for all. Later, they contained Quetta at 156 for nine, winning the match by one run.
It was Liam Dawson who produced an innings par class to provide Zalmi a total worth fighting for, only to have their attack an early go on Gladiators, and his concluding over also nearly handed Quetta an edge.
Zalmi’s ace bowler Hasan Ali let lose all he has up his sleeves and got openers Asad Shafiq and Kohler-Cadmore off the hook, leaving Gladiators in tatters at 17 for two. The following batsmen, Mohammad Nawaz and Sarfraz, established a partnership of 63 runs to raise the hopes of a win for Gladiators. They made 35 runs each in 32 and 21 balls respectively before falling to Sameen Gul. The 10th over of the innings proved fettle for Quetta when Sameen snared them on his fourth and fifth ball of the over. Nawaz and Sarfraz rather gifted their wickets after having built a useful partnership. Gladiators then relied on Rilee Rossouw and Mahmudullah but they too left their team high and dry and were bowled by Umaid Asif for eight and 19 respectively, with their team at 117 for six by 16th over. In a last ditch effort, Thisara Perera (12) kept the flow of runs going for Gladiators along with Anwar Ali who almost left shivers in Zalmi’s spine with 14-ball 28.
Hassan, Sameen, Wahab Riaz, and Umaid had two wickets each from Zalmi’s attack. In the presence of a moderate crowd, mild conditions with cold wind blowing, Zalmi manufactured an impressive score after going on the back foot despite the fact that the game was nearly marred by rain.
Though Gladiators was starless, they still kept their act together to start with an upper hand in the match. Had Dawson not played a brisk innings of innings 62, the interest in the match would have evaporated. Tamim Iqbal 27, Mohammad Hafeez 25 and by the fag end of the innings Wahab Riaz’s 15 were enough for Zalmi to pommel Gladiators’ attack.
Dawson in fact snatched the initiative away from the rivals which almost nailed Zalmi in the initial phase of the match. He produced small partnerships with Saad Nasim, Umaid Asif and Darren Sammy to lift the score from five for 86 to 137 for seven. And before heading back to the pavilion, Dawson had 62 runs on board that came off 35 balls and was laced with 10 boundaries, four of them were sixes. By the time he departed, Zalmi was well in control of the match with fighting 137 for eight. The remaining score was added by Wahab to the total. Rahat Ali was the main destructor from Gladiators with four wickets. With Perera taking two, Mohammad Nawaz, Mir Hamza, Hasan Khan and Mahmudullah shared a wicket a piece.
Earlier, the play stopped just after four balls were bowled in the very first over and resumed after around 15 minutes for the organisers to maintain 20 overs.
After being sent into bat, Tamim Iqbal and Kamran Akmal opened the innings for Zalmi while Mohammad Nawaz began the bowling. Tamim hammered two beautiful boundaries, both over short fine leg, one off the second and the other off the fourth ball from Nawaz, before the rain interrupted again.
The Gladiators opted to bowl first in the first eliminator with a hope of doing well after assessing the soggy conditions when the pitch remained covered for a while. Their captain Sarfraz felt that chase would be a better option. They had lots of changes in its line-up as it brought in Thisara and so were Mahmudullah, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Asad Shafiq.