Quetta Gladiators advance to PSL final

Barnaby Read 00:13 01/03/2017
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Quetta snatched victory from nowhere.

Quetta Gladiators etched their name in the 2017 PSL final thanks to a stunning one-run win in an exact replica of the same match in last year’s tournament.

Then it was Aizaz Cheema who defended seven in the final over with two wickets.

This time it was the same equation and same end result, Mohammad Nawaz going for five, taking the wicket of Chris Jordan and seeing both Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali ran out as Peshawar somehow fell short once again on 199-9.

It was a remarkable turnaround for Nawaz whose four overs returned 3-51 but it was only his last that truly mattered.

For a sell-out crowd in Sharjah, it was just the contest they deserved as yet another of this year’s PSL matches went to the last over and last ball.

Quetta will now go on to contest this year’s final in Lahore on March 5, with the attention swiftly shifting on which of their foreign contingent will make the trip to Pakistan.

Among those faced with the decision are Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright, Rilee Rossouw and Tymal Mills, who all featured on Tuesday night.

The tournament isn’t over for Peshawar, who will face the winner of Wednesday night’s second Qualifying Final between Islamabad United and Karachi Kings in Dubai on Friday to determine Peshawar’s opponents in the showpiece.

But they will take some picking up after the brilliant Dawid Malan, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi put them in pole position until their stunning last over collapse.

Peshawar Zalmi vs Quetta Gladiators

  • Quetta Gladiators 200-7
  • Shehzad (71); Wahab (3-40)
  • Peshawar Zalmi 199-9
  • Hafeez (77); Nawaz (3-51)

The parallels with last year’s first Qualifying Final ran from start to finish, Quetta again put into bat first at the toss.

They were given a scintillating start by Ahmed Shehzad and Kevin Pietersen who maintained their inspired recent run of form.

Shehzad was in sublime touch, racing to 71 from just 38 balls and Pietersen was equally swift, hitting 40 from 22 balls as the pair put on 90 for the second wicket in six brisk overs.

But the pair’s departures rocked Quetta who, having raced to 132-3 inside the 12th over, went 39 balls without a boundary until Anwar Ali hit his first ball for four at the end of the 17th.

They should have coasted past 200 but instead finished up on 200-7, still a very good total but not one as daunting as they threatened earlier in the piece.

In response, Peshawar’s chase stalled from the off, Kamran Akmal and Marlon Samuels departing in just their second over.

Malan and Hafeez were charged with the repair job and it was slow going at 38-2 at the end of the powerplay but, crucially, no more wickets had perished.

The relaxed fielding restrictions also seemed to free Malan and Hafeez who gave their chase the urgency it craved.

They were relentless and for Hafeez, in particular, the innings was desperately needed after a combined 64 runs from his seven prior PSL innings this season brought widespread criticism for his own inclusion.

A raucous Sharjah crowd made their feelings clear, too, when the 36-year-old walked to the wicket to a smattering of boos in the most luke warm of receptions.

As the saying goes, you are only as good as your last innings and cricket fans can be a fickle bunch, proven by the adoring cheers directed at Hafeez as he put Quetta to the sword and, alongside Malan, charged towards their target.

Hafeez eventually departed for 77 to a standing ovation with his side in need of 59 from 37 balls and Afridi walking out to a feverish reception.

Malan would then succumb to Tymal Mills before Afridi took up the charge with 34 from just 13 balls  but their hopes of victory evaporated once their talisman departed.

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