Peshawar Zalmi guaranteed their place in the top-two of the Pakistan Super League and their spot in Tuesday’s first Qualifying Final thanks to a classic Shahid Afridi innings that downed Quetta Gladiators Saturday night.
Afridi entered the picture with his side in dire need of inspiration and he provided just that with 45 from 23 balls at a strike-rate of 195 to see his side home with four balls to spare and just two wickets in hand.
It was another woeful night for Quetta who has now snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in their last two matches to move from top to second and in danger of ending up third and in need of at least two more wins to reach the final.
After being put into bat, Quetta’s total of 128 all-out was well below par, even on a slow pitch taking sharp, big turn.
That they got as many as they did was down to an 86-run partnership between Kevin Pietersen (41) and Rilee Rossouw (38), with only Mohammad Nawaz (18) the only Gladiator to reach double figures.
Peshawar would have been delighted with their bowling display, Hasan Ali (2-22) and Wahab Riaz (2-17) the standout seamers, while Mohammad Asghar (3-33) impressed with his slow left-armers as the 18-year-old registered his best bowling figures of the PSL to date.
But the Zalmi response began awfully as they slumped to 89-7 by the time Mohammad Hafeez departed for a laboured 22.
He and Kamran Akmal (26) were the only batsmen in the top-seven to pass seven runs but both scored at below a run-a-ball.
There was no impetus in the Peshawar chase but, typically, Afridi wasn’t going down without a fight and two boundaries from number 10 Hasan meant Peshawar needed just seven to win.
An Afridi four first ball meant the rest was elementary.
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