About the Match
Zalmi registered a thrilling victory against Gladiators in their last league match to finish in the first place with 9 points; the two teams will now fight it out for a place in the finals when they meet each other in the 1st Qualifying Final match at Sharjah on 28th February. The Gladiators had a successful league throughout but were dismissed all-out for just 128 on board in the game against Zalmi, which wasn’t enough to win the contest; they will try to make a comeback here and ensure the berth in the title clash. Zalmi, on the other hand, has been on a winning roll and could continue doing so here.
Shahid Afridi’s stunning 45 off 23 helped steer Zalmi to a 2-wicket victory against Gladiators and climb up to the topmost position at the finish of the league stage; chasing 129 runs, the top-order yet again faltered with only Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal being in the double digits. However, Afridi stuck his feet firmly on the ground and reached the target with 4 balls to spare.
The bowling effort was also commendable as speedsters Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali took 2 wickets each to restrict the opponents to 128 all-out; spinner Mohammad Asghar provided quick breakthroughs with 2 wickets in the second over and another dismissal in the death overs. All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan found success with one wicket and continues to add depth to the attack.
In the game against Qalandars previously, the batting line-up did well to post 166 with Kamran Akmal top-scoring with 58 off 40 while others like Shakib, Sammy and Samuels kept the runs flowing. The bowlers then struck at regular intervals to stifle the opposition’s chase and win the game by 17 runs. They have a good combination of pace and spin, which consistently delivers and could come out with all their firepower yet again here.
Kevin Pietersen is in good form with the bat and he scored 41 off 43 against Zalmi recently; Rossouw continues to stabilize the middle-order and his well-made 38 kept the scoreboard ticking but the others fell quickly and they could muster only 128. All-rounder batsman Mahmudullah once again proved his mettle with the ball taking 3 wickets in the 2nd innings; speedster TS Mills put up a superb performance taking 3-20 but his efforts went in vain as they lost the match by 2 wickets.
They had also suffered defeat against United in the previous game by a heart-wrenching 1 run after failing to chase down 166 runs. Ahmed Shehzad and Pietersen posted a 133-run stand for the 2nd wicket but others down the line crumbled under pressure. Spinner Zulfiqar Babar took a brilliant 2-17 while Mohammad Nawaz put up an economical show; fast-bowlers Anwar Ali and Perera took 3 wickets between them but couldn’t stop the opponents from posting a competitive total.
Gladiators have been on a losing streak in recent outings but they have the resources to excel under crunch situations; experienced batsmen like Shehzad, Pietersen, and Rossouw are pillars of the side and with in-form bowlers like Babar, Mahmudullah, Mills and Hasan Khan, they could outwit Zalmi.
Zalmi enjoys an upper hand in this crucial match due to their recent exhilarating win against Gladiators; however, we feel that the latter with its batting strength could make a comeback here to make it to the finals