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Quetta Gladiators continued their winning streak by defeating Peshawar Zalmi by 6 wickets in the last game; they are now in the top position with 10 points and will go up against Lahore Qalandars, who managed to win their 2nd game of the season recently against Karachi Kings, at Sharjah on 14th March. The Qalandars face a dire situation of elimination but their recent thrilling win in the super over has kept their campaign alive. The Gladiators, on the other hand, have done well to register three consecutive wins, and seem to be unstoppable currently.
The bowlers yet again put up a disciplined show against Zalmi, restricting them to 157 in the last match; the batsmen then easily chased down the target with 4 balls to spare thanks to a splendid performance by captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Rilee Rossouw, Pietersen, and Watson. While Ahmed top-scored with 45 off 31, Watson opened the chased with Shafiq with a 30-run stand. Pietersen blasted 21 off 13 while Rossouw played a useful knock of 30 to steer the team towards a win.
Earlier, Watson had taken 2-26 with the ball while speedsters Ben Laughlin, Rahat Ali and spinner Mohammad Nawaz dismissed one opponent each. They are a well-balanced mix of pacers and spinners, who continue to strangle their opponents. Against Karachi Kings, speedsters Anwar Ali and Rahat Ali claimed 2 wickets each in an economical manner; others like Watson, Nawaz, Laughlin and Hasan Khan took a wicket each to win the match by 67 runs.
Shane Watson’s well-made 90 off 58 and Pietersen’s 52 off 34 against Kings took them to a solid total of 180, which they comfortably defended later. Others like Asad Shafiq, Rilee Rossouw and Sarfraz Ahmed steady the middle order, and they are consistently bringing in the runs to the table.
SR Watson, JJ Roy, KP Pietersen, Ramiz Raja, RR Rossouw, Sarfraz Ahmed, A Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mir Hamza, Rahat Ali, Hassan Khan.
When they met Gladiators earlier, the batting line-up was outsmarted, and they could muster only 119 runs. However, the Qalandars have improved their performance and have won twice in a row, with their recent victory coming against Karachi Kings in the super-over. They chased down 163 runs to tie the match after a superb show by Agha Salman, who posted 50 runs. Ace spinner Sunil Narine held his nerves together in the one-over eliminator and helped them secure their 2nd win of the season.
Earlier, fast-bowler Sohail Khan claimed 3-34 to contain the opponents; spinner Yasir Shah also took a wicket. Against Multan Sultans, left-arm medium pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi put up a stupendous show taking a career-best 5- 4 to stifle the opposition at 114 all-out. Spinner Sunil Narine also dismissed 2 wickets while speedsters Sohail Khan and Mitchell McClenaghan took a wicket each.
The chase for 115 saw the top-order piling up the runs in a confident manner while captain Brendon McCullum came down at No. 5 to steer the team across the finish line with a well-made 35. They need to win the upcoming match if they want to stay in the hunt.
F Zaman, Anton Devcich, Brendon McCullum, Agha Salman, Gulraiz Sadaf, Sohail Akhtar, Sohail Khan, SP Narine, MJ Mcclenaghan, Shaheen Afridi, Yasir Shah.
Qalandars have shown the hunger to win and if they could fire from all cylinders, then they could try to outwit Gladiators here; however, we feel that with a superior batting strength, the Gladiators are better placed to continue with their winning momentum.