Shane Watson and Ahmed Shehzad knocked solid half centuries to help the Quetta Gladiators become the first team to qualify for the HBL PSL play-offs through a comfortable eight wicket win over arch-rivals Peshawar Zalmi in Abu Dhabi this evening.
Watson smashed six sixes and as many boundaries in his undefeated 91 (off 55) while Shehzad cracked five boundaries in his 50 (off 45) as Quetta chased down their 166-run target in just 17.4 overs.
Kamran Akmal cracked 50-ball 72 with seven boundaries and four sixes to help Peshawar to 165-4 in their 20 overs after they were put into bat.
With the win against Peshawar comes their sixth victory in 12 games, Quetta have qualified for the play-offs. They currently sit on six wins in eight games with 12 points.
Peshawar sit in second position with 10 points in eight matches, having won five and lost three.
Peshawar Skipper Darren Sammy said his bowlers had an off day.
Islamabad United follow in third position with four wins and as many losses in eight games while Lahore Qalandars are fourth with six points (three wins and four losses).
The Karachi Kings, who are currently playing the Multan Sultans here at Zayed Cricket Stadium, are fifth (three wins, four losses in seven matches) are fifth and Multan are sixth with two wins and six losses in eight matches.
Quetta Captain Sarfraz Ahmed was happy with his team’s progress:
“We have done well so it’s great to be in the play-offs,” said Sarfraz. “We try to keep the opponents to totals which we can chase and it was great to see Shane and Ahmed play so well.”
“Yes, it was a tough game. I think bowlers had an off day and they did not bowl as we have wanted,” said Sammy.
Watson and Shehzad collectively added a match winning 129 runs for the second wicket as a formidable Peshawar pace attack found wickets hard to come by after Sameen Gul trapped Ahsan Ali for just one.
When Shehzad was dismissed, bowled by Umaid Asif, Quetta needed only 29 for victory. Rilee Rossouw gave Watson a taste of good company during his four-ball stint of 12 runs with one six and a boundary.
Disappointingly, Peshawar’s Hasan Ali failed to get a wicket after his 18 wickets made him the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.
When Peshawar batted they were given a brisk start of 38 by Kamran and Andre Fletcher who made 28-ball 26 with two fours and a six. However, once Kamran was dismissed only Kieron Pollard found the scoring fast, smashing 21-ball 44 not out with seven fours and a six.
Quetta Gladiators beat Peshawar Zalmi by eight wickets
Peshawar Zalmi 165-4 in 20 overs (Kamran Akmal 72, K. Polard 44 not out)
Quetta Gladiators 166-2 in 17.4 overs (S. Watson 91 not out, Ahmed Shehzad 50)
A media release on behalf of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Photo credit: PCB