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Quetta Gladiators defeated Lahore Qalandars in the last match by 9 wickets and currently stand in the 3rd place with 2 points; they will take on Peshawar Zalmi, who are placed 4th with 2 points, at Sharjah on 1st March. Peshawar Zalmi suffered defeat against Karachi Kings recently by 5 wickets after failing to defend 131 runs set by the batsmen; they had earlier won against Islamabad United by 34 runs in an emphatic manner and will be eager to get back to their winning form. The Gladiators, on the other hand, suffered defeat against Karachi Kings earlier by 19 runs but have done well to bounce back with a win.
Young West-Indies pacer Jofra Archer put up a stupendous effort, dismissing 3-23 against Qalandars recently to restrict them to a meagre 119 runs. Pakistani spinner Mohammad Nawaz also took a career best 2-4 in his 4 over spell to contain the opponents while others like Shane Watson and pacers Hasan Khan and Rahat Ali took a wicket each. The batsmen then easily chased down the target thanks to a powerful knock of 66 by Watson and a good effort by opener Asad Shafiq, who scored 38 runs.
Earlier, against Karachi Kings, they suffered a batting collapse while chasing 150 runs after players like Asad Shafiq, Watson, Kevin Pietersen and captain Sarfraz Ahmed were dismissed for single digits early. Umar Amin and bowler Mohammad Nawaz tried to revive the innings, scoring 30+ runs each but it was too late to turn a corner, and they lost the match by 19 runs in the end. Watson had used his all-rounder skills to dismiss 3-22 while Anwar Ali and Archer took 2 wickets each to restrict the opponents to 149.
The Gladiators are a well-balanced unit with specialist bowlers and experienced batsmen, who can help them dominate the defending champions on Thursday.
Asad Shafiq, SR Watson, Umar Amin, KP Pietersen, Mohammad Nawaz, Sarfraz Ahmed, RR Rossouw, JW Hastings, Hassan Khan, A Ali, Rahat Ali.
They were stifled to 131 runs batting first against Karachi Kings after a horrific show by the middle-order batsmen; the team collapsed like a pack of cards and everyone except Dwayne Smith, who posted a heroic 71 off 51, was out in a dismal way. The batting line-up consists of players like Tamim Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail but they couldn’t impress with the bat. Later, the bowlers failed to defend the lowly total despite a good show by pacer Chris Jordan and spinner Ibtisam Sheikh, who claimed 2 wickets apiece.
They had won against Islamabad United after a powerful innings of 176 by the batsmen; Kamran Akmal posted 53 off 32 while Tamim Iqbal scored 39 runs. Smith and Hafeez pitched in with 30 runs each and the bowlers then demolished the opposition’s chase thanks to a superb 4-23 by Umaid Asif and a 3-wicket haul by spinner Sheikh. Pacers Wahab Riaz and Chris Jordan took a wicket each and add depth to the attack. They won the match by a whopping 34 runs and will be determined to bounce back here.
Zalmi have several match-winners with bat and ball, and if they could strategize well against the Gladiators’ bowling unit, they could come out all guns blazing again.
Tamim Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, DR Smith, Mohammad Hafeez, Sabbir Rahman, Khalid Usman, DJG Sammy, Sameen Gul, Umaid Asif, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Asghar.
Both teams are equally matched in their batting and bowling performances and the match could swing either way; however, we feel that the Gladiators who come here at the back of a win are better placed to emerge victorious.