Popular all-rounder Shahid Afridi registered the best bowling figures of the inaugural Pakistan Super League with 5-7 to dismantle Quetta Gladiators from the top with a dominating eight wicket win in Sharjah on Sunday.
Afridi’s bowled one maiden in his quota of four overs but Quetta showed why they are named gladiators as they fought through a last wicket stand of 63 between Kiwi Grant Elliott (29-ball 40 with three sixes and two boundaries and Zulfiqar Babar (11-ball 20 with a six and a four) to post a challenging 129 in 18 overs.
Dawid Malan hit an attractive 52-ball 60 with six fours and a boundary to anchor the Zalmi’s chase.
Both teams rested their main players to check their bench strength as the two teams had already qualified. Quetta rested Luke Wright Kevin Pietersen while Peshawar were without their in-form Tamim Iqbal.
It was Afridi who caused a slump in Quetta Gladiators’ batting when he took five wickets in 21 balls to derail Quetta from 40-0 to 66-9.
This is Afridi’s career-best in all list A twenty20 games, in all this was his 200th. His previous best was 5-20.
Afridi dismissed Akbar-ur Rehman (one) with the second ball of his first over and then had Mohammad Nawaz (three) and Sarfraz Ahmed (ten) in his next over before grabbing wickets of Mohammad Nabi (two) and Elton Chigumbura (naught) in his next to finish with the best figures of the league.
Paceman Wahab Riaz had claimed the first two wickets, bowling Ahmed Shehzad (21) and Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara (playing his first match in PSL) for a second ball duck.
Shehzad and Riaz were involved in a near-scuffle which came in the fifth over of the innings. Shehzad had hit Riaz for a huge six which had infuriated the paceman who exacted his revenge with the very next ball, bowling the batsman neck and crop. Riaz then gave him a angry send-off on which Shehzad showed him the bat, threatening to hit Riaz. Riaz angered at the gesture threw an expletive as the two came face to face before Peshawar paceman Shaun Tait separated them.
From 66-9 in 12.4 overs, Elliott and Babar staged a remarkable fight back as the two added a PSL last wicket record of 63. It was tremendous to see veteran Babar supplementing the New Zealander.
Elliott holed out off the last delivery of the 18th over caught hooking in the deep.
Peshawar were off to a robust start with Malan and Mohammad Hafeez (28-ball 36 with five boundaries and a six) wiped off 60 by the ninth over before Pakistani opener played one shot too many and was caught in the outfield.
Malan and Kamran Akmal kept the chase on track with a 54-run stand for the second wicket but the former Pakistan keeper holed out with just 16 needed for the win.
Malan ensured the finish line is crossed in the with the England Lions batsman hitting three consecutive boundaries off spinner Mohammad Nawaz to bring up the win.
The win is Peshawar’s fifth in seven games while Quetta also suffered their second loss, but net run-rate gave Afridi team a top place.
Earlier Islamabad beat Karachi Kings to take one step closer to play-offs. Karachi Kings will play their last game against Peshawar and their qualification for the play-offs hinge on Lahore losing both their games or at least one with a big margin.
Teams finishing on same points will be first separated on head-to-head and then on net run-rate.
Monday will be rest day in the event.