Haider Ali, Shoaib Malik and Imam-ul-Haq contribution helps the chase

By : SAQIB YOUSUF

After starting the PSL with two defeats Quetta Gladiators looks comfortable in the first innings of the game, but a late and hard hitting from Rutherford and Wahab Riaz took the game away from them and wins it for Zalmi..

Zalmi’s chase of 199 was the highest of the season and it was the eighth-straight game in PSL 2021 where the chasing side won. The result takes the Zalmi to second on the points table while the Gladiators remain on the bottom.

After losing the toss, Gladiators posted 198 for 7.Sarfraz Ahmed and Azam Khan had a partnership of 107 scoring 81 and 47 respectively. During the whole game it looks impossible to chase but in the death overs everything changed in favor of Zalmi. Wahab and Rutherford took charge of Mohammad Hussain and Dale Steyn. 

For Zalmi, Haider Ali struck a 29-ball 50 while Imam Ul Haq and Shoaib Malik played their part. But it was their lower-order batsmen, Rutherford and Riaz, who were the difference. Rutherford struckt 36 in his 18-ball innings, while Riaz made compensation for his poor bowling show – where he conceded 52 runs in his spell – by hammering 20 runs of 8 deliveries to seal the game.

Playing his first match of the PSL season, Faf du plessis came in at 3 for the Gladiators with the bat after opener Cameron Delport departure in the third over. Playing few deliveries to settle in, he got off the barriers by thrashing Mohammad Irfan for four in the fourth over. In the sixth over, du Plessis  smashed a six and two fours to end the Powerplay,  hope for Gladiators.

With Saim Ayub, the opposite opener, struggling to time the ball, it had been du Plessis who ensured the run rate maintanance. But after Ayub’s dismissal – run out by an immediate hit from Rutherford – du Plessis looked to require the fasten role because Sarfaraz began aggressively. However, du Plessis perished within the 11th over for his 26-ball 37 when he holed out at deep extra cover, deceived by a Riaz slower ball.

Sarfaraz and Azam making it for Gladiators

With 58 balls left in the innings and the score 86 for 3, back-up wicketkeeper Azam joined regular wicketkeeper and captain Sarfaraz in the middle. Sarfaraz began the early charge by playing a late cut off Riaz for four. Azam then found his feet, hitting England fast bowler Saqib Mehmood for back-to-back fours to end the 13th over.

With 58 balls left in the innings with 86 on board for 3, back-up wicketkeeper Azam joined regular wicketkeeper and captain Sarfaraz. The skipper start charging by playing a late cut to Riaz for four. Azam then come front, hitting England fast bowler Saqib Mahmood two boundries to finish the 13th over.

When Riaz stsrted his second spell in the 15th, Azam strike him for a 98m six before smashing two fours for 16 runs of the over. The 16th from Mujeeb then went for 18 as Sarfaraz found the cover boundary, after which Azam hit a four and a six straight over the bowler. The 17th from Mahmood then went for nine as Sarfaraz reached his fifty in 31 balls.

Sarfaraz then hit Irfan for three fours in the 18th to take the run-rate towards 10. With the Zalmi bowling unit looking depressed, Sarfaraz destroyed Riaz next for 18 runs in four balls in the 19th over. However, he fell off the last ball trying to clear the straight boundary.

Scoring 193 for 4, and with six balls left, Gladiators were set to break 200, but Mahmood returned with steel nerve taking three wickets in his final over. He dismissed Azam, Ben Cutting and Mohammad Nawaz to end with 3 for 34. But on the whole  Zalmi bowlers had a day to forget with Riaz (2 for 54) delivering his most costly T20 spell, Mujeeb going at 11 per over and Irfan giving way nearly 40 in his four. At the halfway mark, Gladiators’ 198 for 7 was the highest total of the PSL 2021.

Zalmi play with the bat

Zalmi lacking in confidence early. After an compelling first over from Steyn and a swift one from Hasnain, the Gladiators cost  Kamran Akmal after the batsman sliced Usman Shinwari to deep point in the third over. Although Imam kept the scoreboard ticking, the No. 3 Tom Kohler-Cadmore failed to make any contact from the other end, falling to Steyn when the last ball of an extras-filled fourth over ended with his dismissal.

Imam then found Haider on strike. Together they punch a fast fifty stand for the third wicket. Both batsmen found boundaries at will, but Imam cost his wicket in the tenth over when he tried to come down the ground to Zahid Mahmood. Mahmood, seeing Imam come down the ground, dropped his length and the ball went under the bat to hit the stumps. The score, midway through the 11th over, reached 79 for 3.

Haider showing no mercy, and with the experienced Shoaib Malik as his partner, they together kept striking boundaries to keep the required run-rate in check. Haider took on Shinwari in the 13th. Haider followed up a six with two fours off Shinwari to clatter the Gladiators enough that Sarfaraz could be seen long with bowler in an energetic behavior. The 14th from Zahid then went over 10 as Malik attacked the straight boundary. But the 52-run partnership broken when Haider was unarmed by  Steyn’s slower delivery in his second spell at the start of the 15th over.

Rutherford, Riaz with the trigger.

When Haider went back to dressing room, Zalmi still required 68 runs in 35 balls. Steyn finished the 15th over conceding only five and shifted the energy Gladiators’ way after which Cutting mesmerized Malik lbw in the 16th. That put the Gladiators in front with Zalmi needing 41 off 18.

Rutherford, though, then hit two sixes following off Hasnain’s 18th over to bring the numbers down to 27 off 12 as the bowler lost his nerve. The lead was still with Zalmi as Steyn geared up to bowl the 19th, but he was three times sent out of the ground through the air, one from Rutherford and two by Riaz.

It looked settled for Zalmi but a drama in the last over until Hasnain lost his nerves. Hasnain got a yorker in to send away Riaz and Mahmood was run out for a first-ball with a duck, but then the young bowler delivered a wide that went for four, effectively finishing the game.

Needing 1 off four balls, Rutherford place a drive through the covers to seal Zalmi’s win with three balls to standby. Rutherford ended with 36 off 18 balls but it was Haider who collected the Player-of-the-Match award for his 50 of 29 in a winning foundation.

Quetta remain bottom without a point. Teams defending a target remain winless. Sherfane Rutherford guides Zalmi home in an epic chase, but it’s more heartbreak for Sarfaraz Ahmed and his Gladiators. Islamabad United on top with a match in hand. Muhammad Rizwan leading run scorer 188 in 3 innings. Saqib Mehmood of Zalmi with highest 7 wickets.

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