Quetta Gladiators exhibited their never-say-die approach once again to pull off a heart-stopping one-run win over Peshawar Zalmi in the first play-off in Sharjah on Tuesday (February 28), cruising into the Pakistan Super League final.
Mohammad Nawaz, the left-arm spinner, bowled a sensational last over with just seven runs to defend, but gave up only five. He dismissed Chris Jordan with his fourth ball, Wahab Riaz was run out off his fifth and Hasan Ali was run out off the last ball to send a packed 19,000 crowd at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in raptures, with jubilation in the Quetta dugout.
Darren Sammy, who hit a four off the second ball and took a single off the third, was left stranded at the other end.
It had seemed all over for Quetta after Afridi’s 13-ball 34 with four sixes and a boundary had brought the equation to seven needed off the last over with four wickets in hand. This came after Mohammad Hafeez and Dawid Malan had put on 139 runs for the third wicket to lift Peshawar from a precarious 3 for 2 in the second over, as they looked to chase down Quetta’s 200 for 7.
But Sarfraz Ahmed, the Quetta captain, never lost hope even when they ran into a belligerent Afridi who brought the equation down to Peshawar needing 20 in three overs.
Hafeez had returned to form with a 46-ball 77 with five boundaries and six sixes, while Malan notched 56 off 30 balls with eight hits to the rope and one over it.
Quetta were lifted to an imposing total after they were sent in to bat with Ahmed Shehzad smashing a 38-ball 71 with four sixes and seven boundaries.
The packed house were mostly supporting Peshawar, in a match that was a repeat of last year’s first play-off when Quetta had also won.
Hafeez, who had just 64 runs in his previous seven games, smashed three sixes in one Hasan Khan over, while Malan was steady at the other end.
Afridi hit his third ball for four and then hit a six to herald his arrival, but failed to finish off the game.
All three of Quetta’s left-arm spinners went for runs, with Hasan, still only 18 years old, conceding 36 runs in three overs.
This was the third time Quetta had achieved a 200-plus total.. Their previous two 200-plus totals also ended in wins, both against Lahore – one in in this year’s tournament and the other one in last year’s event.
Quetta got a rollicking start as Shehzad and Kevin Pietersen (40 off 22) set the field ablaze with some ferocious shots in their second-wicket stand.
Once Luke Wright, playing his first game in this edition, was gone for 13, Shehzad and Pietersen took the attack to the bowlers, adding 90 runs in just seven overs.
Pietersen, who hit two sixes and three boundaries, lifted Mohammad Asghar over the fence twice. In the next over, Shehzad hit two boundaries and a six off Afridi to complete his third half-century in the league, raising the landmark off just 29 balls.
Quetta had 121 for 2 in the first ten overs, but once Shehzad and Pietersen were dismissed, Peshawar pulled back by conceding only 32 in the next five overs.
Peshawar will now meet the winner of the eliminator – between Islamabad United, the defending champions, and Karachi Kings, in Sharjah on Wednesday – on Friday