Watson packs a wallop as Quetta quell Peshawar challenge to enter PSL final

psl-peshawar

Quetta Gladiators’ Shane Watson in action against Peshawar Zalmi during their PSL match in Karachi on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

Karachi: Powered by a 43-ball swashbuckling 71-run knock by Shane Watson, Quetta Gladiators beat one-time champions Peshawar Zalmi by 10 runs in the qualifier played at the National Stadium in Karachi on Wednesday, to romp into the final of the Pakistan Super League 2019 (PSL 2019).

Despite ending on the losing side, Peshawar Zalmi will have another opportunity to qualify for the final when they will meet the winners of Thursday’s eliminator between Karachi Kings and Islamabad United on Friday.

Earlier, during the Quetta innings, opener Watson was in his elements, his 71-run blitzkrieg comprising five hits to the boundary and six over it.

Other batters contributing to Quetta scoring 186/6 off their allotted 20 overs, were Ahsan Ali who hit 46 runs off 32 balls with the help of four fours and two sixes, and Umar Akmal who pitched in with a 15-ball 22.

Wahab Riaz was the most successful Peshawar bowler, accounting for two Quetta scalps, while conceding 26 runs off his four overs. Hasan Ali, Tymal Mills, Sameen Gul and Kieron Pollard took a wicket each.

In reply Quetta openers Kamran Akmal and Imam ul-Haq gave them a steady start, with the latter more adventurous than his more experienced partner. While Akmal scored 22 off 26 balls, Imam hit a 18-ball 23.

With the run-rate increasing by leaps and bounds, it was left to a sixth-wicket 83-run partnership between Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy, that gave Peshawar some hope of making a match out of it. However, with the departure of Pollard for a well-struck 44 off 22 balls (6x4, 1x6), the match was over bar the shouting as Quetta in the end fell short of their target of 187, their innings folding up at 176 for 7 in their 20 overs. Sammy was their highest run-scorer, hitting 46 off 21 balls (2x4, 5x6). Peshawar thus won the match by 10 runs and Watson, for his  match-winning 71 runs that was mainly instrumental in Quetta putting up a challenging total, was declared man of the match.

For Quetta, Mohammad Hasnain was the most successful bowler, taking 2/28 off his 4 overs. Mohammad Nawaz, Rilee Rossouw, Ahsan Ali and Shane Watson took a wicket each.

Going into the match, Quetta had an edge, winning both their league games by six and eight-wicket margins, respectively leaving the head-to-head in their favour with six wins, five defeats and one no-result in 12 contests.

Quetta have finished runner-up in 2016 and 2017, while Peshawar outlasted them in the third vs fourth Eliminator in 2018. Interestingly, every time the margin of victory was one-run.

The Quetta-Peshawar rivalry began in 2016 when both the sides shared a match each in the first round before Gladiators won the war of Qualifier when Aizaz Cheema took two wickets and conceded a single off the last-ball as Peshawar failed to chase down a small target of 134 runs.

Peshawar won one of the league matches in 2017, while the other was rained-off in Sharjah before another Qualifier went to Quetta, this time too Peshawar falling short by one-run in pursuit of a 201-run target. On that day, Hasan Ali was run-out when two runs were needed off the last ball.

But Peshawar had the last laugh, clinching the final and the title with a big 58-run victory against a depleted Quetta, who were without their top foreign players.

They again shared a league match each in 2018, before Peshawar snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by one-run in the Eliminator in Lahore.

Needing 25 runs off the last over, Quetta were brought within a stroke of victory by Anwar Ali who hammered three sixes and a boundary off spinner Liam Dawson.

But, needing three for victory, Anwar’s partner Mir Hamza was run out as the batsmen tried to take a second run.