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HBL PSL 2017 – First Play-Off: History repeated as Gladiators crush Zalmi hopes at end of an incredible thriller

Quetta Gladiators 200 for 7 in 20 overs

Peshawar Zalmi 199 for 9 20 overs

SHARJAH February 28: The end was eerily similar to the first HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) Play-off as Peshawar Zalmi lost their nerves in the final over of an incredible chase to hand Quetta Gladiators a berth in the final of the 2017 PSL edition set to be played in Lahore.

Needing 201 for a win, the Zalmi side gave a monumental batting performance to all but seal a historic win but the 2016 Play-off voodoo came to haunt them again as they surrendered the game with only seven runs needed off the last over bowled by spinner Mohammad Nawaz.

Last year Aizaz Cheema broke Zalmi hearts with a lion-hearted performance when the opposition lost their last three wickets needing four to win off the last four balls to lose by one run.

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Tonight Nawaz had a mere two runs to defend of the last three and he removed Chris Jordan, Wahab Riaz and bowled the perfect yorker to Hassan Ali as the batsman lost his wicket in an attempt to steal a single, captain Daren Sammy who lost the strike after hitting a four on the second ball of the over was a mere spectator on the other end as his tail-enders were rendered clueless against Nawaz.

Nawaz was mobbed by his squad members and the Gladiators management after his last over heroics as the Sharjah full house witnessed another spellbinding game in the HBL PSL 2017.

The 2017 edition ceases to amaze and Gladiators must have felt that they had the game in their bag after Zalmi lost opener Kamran Akmal and Marlon Samuels for one run apiece at the start of their 201 run chase.

Mohammad Hafeez who was horribly out of nick before the game produced a 77 run master class off only 47 balls with the help of six sixes to bring his team back in the hunt in association with Dawid Malan who scored 56 off only 30 balls.

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The two added 139 runs for the third wicket before an astonishing 13 ball 34 with by Shahid Afridi brought Zalmi to within a whisker of a win. But it was Gladiators who prevailed at the end of the heart stopping thriller largely due to Nawaz’s brilliance.

Earlier the Gladiators innings was built around a dazzling 38 ball 71 run innings by Ahmed Shehzad who hit four sixes and seven fours, Kevin Pietersen scored 40 off only 22 balls as the Gladiators posted 200 runs on the board.

The drama that unfolded in the Zalmi innings could hardly be imagined after the Gladiators batting performance and only Nawaz’s steely nerves and the cluelessness of the Zalmi tail sealed a win for the Quetta team as the two teams produced a game for the ages.

The Zalmi-Gladiators’ rivalry might yet see another chapter this season if the Zalmi can overcome the heartbreak and win the last Play-Off on Friday against the winner of the Islamabad United-Karachi Kings game that takes place on Tuesday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

About Shakeel Gulzar

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