PSL: Quetta seal last-ball thriller to enter final

There’s a reason they say don’t take numbers too seriously in cricket. Bowling the last three balls of the match with Peshawar Zalmi needing only two runs to win, Mohammad Nawaz – the most expensive bowler of the match, who had figures of 3.4-0-51-1 till then, delivered three consecutive dot deliveries, each earning his side a wicket, to guide Quetta Gladiators to a dramatic 1-run win and help them become the first team to seal a place in the Pakistan Super League 2017 final.

His efforts also put paid to Dawid Malan and Mohammad’s Hafeez superb resurrection act after Peshawar Zalmi had lost Kamran Akmal and Marlon Samuels in the second over. The duo stroked their respective half centuries and stitched a 139-run stand for the third wicket to lay a solid foundation for the 201-run chase. While Hafeez opted to use the arial route more often than Malan, they both scored at a brisk pace.

Malan struck eight boundaries and a six in his 30-ball 56, while Hafeez hit five boundaries and six sixes. The duo departed in a space of eight balls, with Peshawar still needing 44 runs off 29 balls when Malan offered a return catch to Tymal Mills. However, Shahid Afridi didn’t let the momentum drop as he smacked four sixes and a boundary in his 13-ball stay at the crease to bring the equation of balls and runs required at par. The veteran allrounder raced to 34 runs in no time and brought the equation down to eight runs off seven balls by the time he returned to the dugout.

However, once he departed, the lower order, all capable with the bat – Chris Jordan, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali, couldn’t help Peshawar get over the line. The equation was six runs needed off the last four balls when Darren Sammy attempted a heave which caught his outside edge and ran over Mills at short third man for a boundary. As it turned out, that proved to be the last scoring shot of the match. One caught behind and two run outs stopped Peshawar’s charge one run short of Quetta’s total.

Earlier in the day, Ahmed Shehzad’s blazing 38-ball 71, after Pehawar won the toss and elected to field, set the tone for Quetta’s innings. Luke Wright’s showcase lasted only seven balls in which he managed one four and a solitary six. However, he helped the side get off to a quick start, a momentum which Kevin Pietersen and Shehzad used to good effect. The duo smashed the bowlers all over the park, including of a gigantic six by the tall Englishman off Riaz which landed on the road outside the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium.

Having put on 90 runs in only 42 balls, both the batsmen fell in quick succession. Having helped Quetta score at a rate of more than 12 an over, the twin dismissal helped Peshawar get back into the game. Riaz, Jordan and Ali bowled brilliantly in the death overs to pull things back in their side’s favour. Wickets fell at regular intervals, and as Sarfaraz Ahmed and Rilee Rossouw figured out, scoring too had become tough. The two international stars could muster only 34 runs off 38 balls.

Peshwar bowlers did well in the death overs, conceding only 68 runs off the last 52 balls of the innings, to restrict the opposition to 200 for 7, but on Tuesday (February 28) the effort didn’t prove good enough for their side.

Brief Scores: Quetta Gladiators 200/7 in 20 overs (Ahmed Shehzad 71, Kevin Pietersen 40; Wahab Riaz 3-40) beat Peshawar Zalmi 199/9 in 20 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 77, Dawid Malan 56; Mohammad Nawaz 3-51) by 1 run

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