Jake Weatherald, Usman Shinwari help keep Quetta Gladiators' distant playoffs dream alive

Khurram Shahzad leaps to celebrate a wicket © Pakistan Super League

Quetta Gladiators 158 for 5 (Weatherald 48, Sarfaraz 34*, Faulkner 3-25) beat Lahore Qalandars 140 (David 46, Shahzad 3-14, Shinwari 3-32) by 18 runs

The Quetta Gladiators bagged the much-needed two points to remain afloat this season, as their bowlers combined to fashion an 18-run win over the Lahore Qalandars after being boosted by Jake Weatherald, Azam Khan and Sarfaraz Ahmed with the bat.

Left-arm pacer Usman Shinwari‘s strike in the first over of the Qalandars’ chase meant the Gladiators began their defence just how they would have liked. Shinwari had the opposition captain Sohail Akhtar caught behind for a first-ball duck before getting Mohammad Hafeez in the fifth over. In between, against Mohammad Hasnain’s scrambled seam, Fakhar Zaman’s attempted slog dislodged his middle stump. It felt like the Gladiators had more or less sealed the match by the seventh over when Ben Dunk, too, departed to leave the Qalandars five down for just 47 runs.

Weatherald comes to the rescue
After James Faulkner had Usman Khan loft one right down the throat of deep point in the second over, it was Usman’s opening partner Weatherald who initiated the repair job for the Gladiators. Weatherald was on 7 off 16 deliveries at one stage after the early nerves encountered by the movement of Shaheen Shah Afridi and the accuracy of Faulkner, whose slower deliveries and variations continued to keep a check on the opposition batters. But Weatherald got into Ahmed Daniyal in the fifth over after the first four had produced only 16 runs. He first pulled Daniyal to deep square before driving his slower ball to the right of mid-off for two fours in the over.

And with one over of the powerplay to go, Weatherald took the aggressive route against Faulkner as well. He cracked two fours and a six off him – a guide down to third man, a flick to deep square leg and a pull over the square leg boundary, respectively – to inject some momentum into the Gladiators’ innings. When the Qalandars introduced Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hafeez, even they were not spared by Weatherald, who fell for 48 off 41 deliveries when he was bowled by Hafeez.

Azam counterattacks, Faulkner applies the brakes, Sarfaraz hits back
Hafeez and Rashid Khan removed Cameron Delport and Weatherald in quick succession, but Azam Khan from No. 5 didn’t shy away from counterattacking. After getting a boundary off Rashid by skipping down to a googly, he bashed Rauf for four fours in the 12th over – after a gentle dab, a pull and a whip down the leg side, he rounded off the over with a subtle glide to deep point for four. But after Azam struck a six off Rashid in the next over, Faulkner hit back with his wicket off the first ball of the 15th.

Applying a change of pace yet again with a well disguised ball, Faulkner nabbed Azam for 33 off 18 balls when the batter’s attempted slog on the leg side only found deep midwicket, where Zaman ran in to complete the take. Five balls later, Faulkner’s sharp reflex catch off his own bowling sent back Mohammad Nawaz for six. That started a quiet period with the bat for the Gladiators, who could muster only 18 off the next 17 deliveries before Sarfaraz hit back with two fours and a six to provide the finishing touches with an unbeaten 34 off 27 balls, having been on 18 from 19 deliveries until the 18th over.

The famous Qalandars collapse
They had folded up for 124 in their previous match after being 86 for 2 in the 11th over while chasing 153 against the Islamabad United, and the Qalandars repeated the script against the Gladiators on Tuesday evening. A score of 23 for 1 became 66 for 7 in the blink of an eye, as the highest score by a top five batter was Zeeshan Ashraf’s 16, with all three of Akhtar, Hafeez and Dunk falling for single-figure scores.

Nawaz produced a beauty in the seventh over when he gave the ball some air just outside off, as it turned into Dunk, who went for the drive only for the ball to find the gap between his bat and pad. He next bowled Rashid in the ninth over off a short of a length ball that didn’t get up a great deal, as Rashid played the pull only to be bowled by one that didn’t turn.

David fights as Qalandars take it deep
The Qalandars needed an unlikely 84 from 45 balls with three wickets in hand before Tim David decided to throw everything at the Gladiators’ bowlers. In Zahoor Khan’s first over – which had already started with seven runs off the first three deliveries – David hammered 4, 6, 6 off the last three balls to drag the required rate down from an improbable 11.33 to a more likely 9.71. And after Nawaz finished off his quota in the next over – he ended with 2 for 16 – David resumed with consecutive fours off Shinwari just after the time-out.

But Shinwari had him caught by Sarfaraz off the last ball of the over, after David had cracked 46 off 27 balls, including four fours and three sixes. But Sarfaraz’s worries wouldn’t end with that as first Afridi’s 12 runs from six deliveries and then No. 11 Rauf’s 19 off seven brought it down to 19 needed from 13 balls. But Hasnain, who had got the battering from them both, wrapped it up with a yorker to dismiss Rauf and relieve his captain with an 18-run win.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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