Peshawar Zalmi beat Quetta Gladiators by five wickets in the second match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the National Stadium in Karachi, opening their tournament on a positive note.
Stand-in skipper Shoaib Malik won the toss and elected to field first and the decision, and at first did not seem good as they had to chase a 191-run target, but their sensational batting defied odds.
The Zalmi were three men down— skipper Wahab Riaz, Kamran Akmal, and Hazratullah Zazai — due to coronavirus, but Malik did not let that overshadow the Zalmis as he and Hussain Talat led the team to victory.
Quick fall of three wickets — Tom Kohler-Cadmore (22), Yasir Khan (30), and Haider Ali (19) — seemed like Gladiators had the match wrapped up, but then, Malik and Talat came in.
Talat was able to score 52 off 29 balls, with the help of five fours and two sixes, while Malik hit an unbeaten 48 off 32 balls — and he also smashed some amazing boundaries in the second-last over to help his team sail to victory.
Gladiators’ bowlers failed to impress, as Mohammad Nawaz picked up three wickets, while James Faulkner and Naseem Shah were able to take a wicket each.
Openers William Smeed and Ahsan Ali had earlier punished COVID-hit Peshawar Zalmi and helped Quetta Gladiators put up a massive 190/4 score on the board.
Will Smeed made 97 off 62 balls, with the help of 11 fours and four sixes, while Ahsan Ali smashed 73 off 46 balls with the help of eight fours and three sixes.
The powerplay was sensational for the Gladiators as they managed to amass 62 runs — Ahsan Ali (28 runs off 16 balls) and Will Smeed (31 runs off 20 balls).
Till the 16th over, the Gladiators were sailing smoothly, and both the batters did not leave any opportunity to punish the Zalmi bowlers — no matter who was sent their way.
The openers made a 151-run opening stand.
But Usman Qadir finally came to work and got the first wicket of Ahsan Ali. In the same over, he picked up the scalp of Ben Duckett, who was dismissed for nill.
The Gladiators moved on as Smeed stood his ground to play an exceptional inning. Iftikhar Ahmed (8) was dismissed in the 20th over. In the last ball of the innings, Smeed was also caught out as he tried to hit a boundary to get a ton but failed in the process.
Sameen Gul and Usman Qadir took two wickets for Zalmi.