Afridi bowls historic spell and takes 5/7 as Zalmi cruise past the Gladiators
The stage was buzzing with excitement for this top of the table clash between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators. After already having sealed their place in the play offs, Quetta rested many of their first team players, with Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and Anwar Ali were all given some time off and Kumar Sangakkar came to play his first match in the HBL PSL. Quetta Gladiators won the toss and elected to bat first, which was the first time they were batting first in the entire tournament. Asad Shafiq also made his debut in the league and came to open the innings with Ahmad Shehzad. The openers got off to a flying start, as Shehzad was hitting the ball cleanly. Shots began to flow and the Gladiators were cruising until Wahab came on to bowl a magical 5th over of the innings. He was dispatched by Shehzad for six before bowling him out on the very next ball. The intensity was sky high which clearly showed, as there was an altercation between the two in the middle, with the umpires having to step in to cool things off. Kumar Sangakkara’s introduction to the PSL was a disappointing one, as he was bowled for a duck in the same over and the Zalmis were absolutely overjoyed!
To make matters worse for Quetta, Zalmi’s captain Shahid Afridi came on to bowl and what a magical spell it was! He dismissed Akbar Ur Rehman first as he miscued his shot for an easy catch towards Shahid Yousuf. Afridi ran out Asad Shafiq brilliantly off his own bowling as Quetta’s batsmen looked vulnerable on the crease. In the tenth over, Mohammad Nawaz was caught leg before by Afridi, and two balls later, Sarfraz Ahmed dragged on to his stumps as ‘Lala’ looked absolutely unplayable. Quetta were rattled but Afridi put the final nail in the coffin in his last over as he got rid of Mohammad Nabi and Elton Chigumbura in quick succession and was on a hat-trick. He almost got there but Umar Gul blocked the ball well to prevent that from happening. Afridi finished with phenomenal figures of 4-1-7-5, as the Gladiators were down and out at 66/9 after 13 overs. Grant Elliott was still in the middle along with Zulfiqar Babar, and these two put on a world record partnership for the 10th wicket in T20 cricket. Elliott played some impressive shots and Babar also surprised many with the bat, charging down the ground to dispatch Asghar for a beautiful six. Elliott was dismissed after an impressive 40 from 29 balls, as Quetta were bowled out for 129 in their allotted overs.
Mohammad Hafeez and Dawid Malan opened the innings for Peshawar Zalmi as Tamim Iqbal was rested for this match, and got off to a confident start. Zalmi were never really threatened by that total as the Gladiators failed to take any early wickets. Hafeez and Malan got into their stride early and started the stroking the ball comfortably, putting the match beyond all doubt early on. Hafeez was dismissed after the pair had already put 60 on the board. Malan remained not out at 60 runs from 52 balls to finish the innings with eight balls to spare, as Peshawar Zalmi defeated Quetta Gladiators comfortably by 8 wickets. Both these teams are now tied on points at the top of the table, while the other teams continue to play catch up with them. Afridi was awarded the man of the match for his sublime performance, one that we all will remember for a very long time.
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