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Quetta Gladiators continued their winning streak as they emerged victorious against Karachi Kings in their last outing by a whopping 67 runs. They are placed in the 2nd spot with 8 points and will go up against Peshawar Zalmi, who are placed in the 5th position with 6 points, at Dubai on 10th March. Zalmi lost their last match against Multan Sultans by 19 runs while they had defeated Lahore Qalandars by a thumping 10-wickets previously. Being the defending champions, Peshawar Zalmi has a lot to live up to and they will be eager to make a comeback with a win here to climb up the ladder; on the other hand, Quetta Gladiators are flying high with their recent success and could prove to be a tough unit to crack.
In the match against Sultans, the batting line-up had the same task of chasing down 183 runs, but they fell short by 19 runs despite a good show by captain Mohammad Hafeez, who scored 56 off 41. Mike Wessels and Liam Dawson contributed well with 22 and 32 runs respectively but they lost the match in the end. Pacer Umaid Asif and spinner Dawson dismissed one opponent each but others like Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, and Sameen Gul failed to impress.
Against Qalandars, the bowlers put up a terrific show as Riaz and Hasan Ali took 5 wickets between them while spinner Liam Dawson took 3-20 to get the opponents all-out for a measly 100. The batsmen then chased down the target easily without any loss of wicket as Kamran Akmal posted 57 off 47 and Tamim Iqbal played a useful knock of 37 runs.
Bowling first against Islamabad United, Wahab Riaz used his fast-bowling skills to restrict the opponents; he took 3-30 in 4 overs, but others proved to be expensive, and they ended up facing a stiff target of 183. They have had a mixed run so far, but they do have the resources to emerge as a tough contender.
Kamran Akmal, Riki Wessels, DR Smith, Mohammad Hafeez, Khushdil Shah, LA Dawson, DJG Sammy, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Asghar, Umaid Asif.
Batting first against Karachi Kings, Shane Watson used his expertise to build a solid foundation batting at No. 2; his heroic 90 off 58 steered the team to a strong total of 180. Kevin Pietersen posted a well-made 52 off 34 and adds depth to the batting line-up along with Rilee Rossouw, Asad Shafiq, and others. The bowlers then tightened the noose around the opponents, with speedsters Rahat Ali and Anwar Ali taking 2 wickets apiece while others like spinner Mohammad Nawaz, pacers Watson, and Laughlin taking a wicket each. They won the match by a huge margin of 67 runs, which has boosted their morale.
They defeated debutants Multan Sultans as well in a closely fought contest wherein they comfortably chased down 153 runs thanks to a good show by Watson, Shafiq, Rossouw and Rameez Raja, who stitched strong partnerships. The bowlers had earlier provided regular breakthroughs with Anwar Ali, Rahat Ali, Laughlin, Watson and Mohammad Nawaz taking a wicket each.
The Gladiators have been consistently putting up an all-round performance and look to be a formidable force to reckon with.
Asad Shafiq, SR Watson, KP Pietersen, RR Rossouw, A Ali, Ramiz Raja, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Hassan Khan, Ben Laughlin, Rahat Ali.
The Gladiators come here at the back of consecutive wins and could continue with their winning streak; Zalmi could put up a strong fight but we feel that Gladiators with their high morale and determination, are better placed to emerge victorious on Saturday.