Nabi hits a boundary on the last ball to secure victory for Quetta by two wickets in dramatic fashion!
This was a crucial match for Lahore Qalandars if they were to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs. The Gladiators won the toss and elected to field first, as we returned to Dubai for the last few stages of the HBL PSL. Azhar Ali and Chris Gayle opened the innings, and the later took charge from the very first over. Gayle was due a performance in the tournament and he picked this match to finally deliver. He smashed sixes at will and spared no one from the Gladiators’ bowling attack. Anwar Ali, Umar Gul and Zulfiqar Babar were all dispatched for huge sixes as Gayle began to dominate and reminded the world what he can do. Azhar kept supporting him on the other end by rotating the strike nicely, and would wait for a bad ball to hit some shots of his own. Gayle reached his half century in only 28 balls, as Lahore got off to a flying start in this must win encounter. Azhar Ali too began to hit a few big shots as Lahore were a staggering 100/0 after the first ten overs.
Gayle (60 from 34) departed in the 11th over, much to Quetta’s relief after trying to hit Zulfiqar Babar for another six, but the damage had already been done. Azhar also completed his half century in the 13th over from 37 deliveries, setting Lahore for a massive total. He was dismissed by Grant Elliott in the 16th over, as Dwayne Bravo and Umar Akmal were in the middle to finish off strongly for Lahore. Quetta’s usually reliable bowlers were also to blame for conceding so many runs, as they kept bowling full tosses and loose deliveries at regular intervals. Akmal played well in the last few overs, smashing Anwar Ali for three consecutive sixes in the second last over and completed his half century in only 23 deliveries! Qalandars ran riot on the Gladiators and posted a mammoth total of 201/2 in their twenty overs, which was the highest target of the competition so far. Lahore’s big names performed at a critical time for their team, and went in to the break satisfied with their effort.
Needing to chase down a monumental total, Quetta Gladiators wasted little time and started in great style. The young Bismillah Khan opened the innings and looked to be in great touch. He took on the bowlers early on and started dealing in boundaries, with Lahore running out of answers to stop him. Ahmad Shehzad fell only in the third over as he was caught leg before by Ehsan Adil. From then on, the youngster Bismillah stole the show with some sublime hitting, and was supported well by the experience Kevin Pietersen on the other end. Both batsmen played glorious shots with the ball coming nicely on to the bat, and they made sure they capitalized. Quetta raced to an astonishing 73/1 after five overs and well set to chase down the target easily. Pietersen was scoring runs quickly and smashing boundaries with ease as Bismillah raced to his half century in only 24 balls. Everything seemed to be working for the Gladiators until Dwayne Bravo came in to bowl the 9th over of the innings. Pietersen (34 from 21) was caught at deep midwicket by Umar Akmal and Bismillah lofted one for Rizwan on the very next delivery after an impressive innings, as Bravo turned the momentum back in Lahore’s favour. After ten overs, Quetta were 107/3 after the first ten overs.
The legendary Kumar Sangakkara was joined by Quetta’s captain Sarfraz Ahmed in the middle to chase down the remaining runs. Sangakkara was given a lifeline early on in his innings as he was caught in the deep off Zohaib Khan but it was deemed a no ball as the bowler hit the stumps in his stride before delivering the ball! Sangakkara went along with his innings comfortably from then on, with some elegant shots along the way. Both batsmen ran really well between the wickets and kept the runs ticking. Just as it seemed Quetta were in control, Ehsan Adil bowled out Sarfraz and the dangerous Sangakkara (37 from 26) in the 16th over as the Lahore Qalandars were ecstatic! Grant Elliott was caught by Adil off Kevon Cooper in the very next over, and suddenly the tables turned. Adil returned to dismiss Nawaz, as everything he touched was turning into gold. Quetta needed 27 runs from the last 12 balls with three wickets in hand, with Anwar Ali and Mohammad Nabi on strike.
Dwayne Bravo bowled the second last over and was greeted with a huge six towards long off by Mohammad Nabi, who followed that up with a four as the stage was set for a thrilling finish. Anwar Ali was caught by Umar Akmal in the same over with the momentum shifting back and forth, with both teams in with a chance to come out victorious. Quetta needed 15 runs from the last over, with the spinner Zohaib Khan given the responsibility to steer Lahore towards a much needed win. Nabi was not in a gracious mood as he hit him for 10 runs from the first 3 balls. Quetta needed 3 runs from the last ball and Mohammad Nabi broke Lahori hearts and hit Khan for four to snatch the game away! This defeat almost certainly means that the Qalandars miss out on the playoffs, while Quetta Gladiators are one of the favourites to win the title.
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