Neesham, Powell help Peshawar Zalmi down Quetta Gladiators

Neesham, Powell help Peshawar Zalmi down Quetta Gladiators
Neesham, Powell help Peshawar Zalmi down Quetta Gladiators

Peshawar Zalmi 157 for 6 (Neesham 38, Powell 36, Hasnain 3-13) beat Quetta Gladiators 154 for 4 (Iftikhar 50*, Sarfaraz 39, Qadir 2-26) by 4 wickets

If ever cricket wanted to drive home the point that this sport is a team game, this fixture was it. Scarcely can a T20 fast bowler turn in the performance Mohammad Hasnain did today while ending up on the losing side, but an indifferent batting performance from Quetta Gladiators ensured that would be his fate. Peshawar Zalmi, meanwhile didn’t have a single player who could hold a candle to Hasnain’s heroics, but enough of their players did just about enough to subdue Hasnain’s side, with a clinical team performance edging out an individual, fire-breathing, one man rescue act.

Defending 155 to win, the Gladiators needed early wickets, particularly after Mohammad Haris got Zalmi off to a blazing start in the first two overs. Hasnain would oblige, removing him and the precocious Saim Ayub off his first two deliveries. He followed up by getting rid of Tom Kohler-Cadmore in his second over, and it soon became apparent he was the one man stood between a Zalmi canter and a Quetta heist.

Naseem Shah provided able support, conceding just 19 runs and taking a wicket, but the low total meant one cameo partnership between Rovman Powell and James Neesham was just about enough. The two put together 46 in five overs before a perfect yorker from Naseem cleaned up the Jamaican, and while Neesham departed soon after, it wasn’t before he had smashed Qais Ahmed for two fours and a six to leave his side 21 away.

The 17th over was a masterclass of death bowling from Hasnain, toying with Wahab Riaz as he sent down a maiden, but with Naseem bowled out, the Gladiators simply didn’t have the quality to defend 19 in 18 balls. It took Zalmi just nine more balls to get home, with Wahab finishing the game off with a pair of boundaries against Mohammad Nawaz, who somehow tends to find himself thrown into this kind of situation.

That the Gladiators would end up with a below-par score looked imminent when they managed a solitary run in the first two overs, with Zalmi’s stranglehold continuing through the powerplay. Martin Guptill couldn’t find the explosive form that took him to three figures against Karachi, while Jason Roy looked equally scratchy as he found himself playing down the wrong line to a beautiful Usman Qadir googly.
Qadir, the pick of Zalmi’s bowlers, also trapped Nawaz in front, giving way to the most significant point of resistance from Gladiators’ batters. Sarfaraz Ahmed and Iftikhar Ahmed first consolidated, then teed off to ensure they’d post something defensible. 17 off Shanaka’s 14th over proved the catalyst for the late onslaught, and when Sarfaraz was cleaned up for a useful 39, Iftikhar was completely in his element.

He’d smashed Wahab Riaz for six sixes in a recent exhibition game, and on Monday, sent down a seventh off the first ball he faced from Zalmi’s skipper. Odean Smith picked up three successive boundaries off Neesham before Iftikhar brought up an unbeaten 34-ball 50 to sign off. It meant 97 had come off the final 7 overs.

It was still well below what was feasibly defensible, and as Hasnain found out to his cost, his teammates simply hadn’t done enough in a game where he possibly couldn’t have done more.

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