By AZ Aamir
KARACHI: Debutant Usman Khan and leg-spinner Qais Ahmad did a superb job to enable Quetta Gladiators to pull off their maiden win from five outings when they downed Multan Sultans by 22 runs in their fifth round fixture of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021 here at National Stadium on Wednesday night.
Gladiators also became the first team in the event so far who defended the total. All the previous matches in the event have been won by the outfits who have batted second.
Usman hammered a superb 81 off 50 balls to guide Gladiators to pile-up 176-7 in the allotted 20 overs. Qais Ahmad of Afghanistan then claimed 3-21 in four overs to enable Gladiators to dismiss Multan for 154 in 19.4 overs.
In pursuit of a tricky target, Mohammad Rizwan (66) and James Vice provided a good foundation to Multan when they shared 63 in 48 balls for the opening stand. Qais Ahmad broke the dangerous stand when he removed Vince who edged a top spin to keeper Sarfraz Ahmed after scoring a 21-ball 24, featuring four fours.
Off the first ball of his next over Qais got rid of Shan Masood (1), trapped lbw, before removing South African left-handed batsman Rilee Rossouw (3) to leave Multan reeling at 86-3 in the 12th over.
In the next over left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz added to the misery of Multan when he got the prized scalp of Sohaib Maqsood (2) who offered an easy catch to Ben Cutting at long-on.
Khushdil Shah then hit a rapid 12-ball 19 with three fours before being removed by Mohammad Hasnain. Hasnian in the same over sent Carlos Brathwaite (4) to reduce Multan to 131-6 in the 17th over. In the next over leggie Zahid Mahmood got rid of the key man Rizwan and Sohail Khan (8) off his two successive deliveries to end Multan’s hopes of a victory.
Rizwan, who brought in fifty off 37 balls, hammered seven fours and two sixes in his fine 50-ball feat. This was the third fifty from Rizwan in the event.
In the last over from Dale Steyn Multan required 25 runs. They scored just two and lost their remaining two wickets when Imran Tahir (14) got run out before Shahnawaz Dhani (0) falling to the South African pacer.
Qais was ably backed by Zahid (2-39) and Hasnain (2-34).
Earlier Usman made a dream debut when he hammered a superb 50-ball 81 to enable Quetta Gladiators set a 177-run target for Multan. Quetta posted 176-7 in the allotted 20 overs.
After being invited to bat first, the 25-year old Usman seemed in a superb mood, playing his shots at will. Usman, who has played just two first-class matches for Karachi Whites, brought in his fifty on what was his dream debut off 33 balls.
Usman, who last year played a T20 event in Dubai while playing for Fujairah, smashed three sixes and ten fours in his fantastic knock.
He shared 69 for the opening stand with Saim Ayub, who was held in the deep by Khushdil Shah off South Africa’s leggie Imran Tahir after scoring 18-ball 23 with two fours and one six.
Usman, trapped lbw off Tahir, added 53 runs for the second wicket with Faf du Plessis who fell for a run-a-ball 17 with one four.
Quetta then kept losing wickets in a flash. Imran Khan Senior removed Sarfarz Ahmad (3) before Shanawaz Dhani getting rid of Azam Khan (17) and Ben Cutting (10) inside three balls to leave Quetta at 155-6 in 18 overs.
Azam struck one six and two fours in his ten-ball effort. Cutting hit one four from eight balls.
Mohammad Nawaz scored explosive ten-ball 20 in the end, hitting four fours before being removed by Shahnawaz Dhani off the final ball of the innings, held by stumper Mohammad Rizwan.
Dhani was the pick of the bowlers with 3-44 in four overs. Imran Tahir claimed 2-29 in his quota of four overs.
The win helped Gladiators to open their account with two points after five matches. This was the fourth loss for Multan (2 points) from five meetings.
Qais Ahmad was declared as man of the match for his glorious bowling who ripped through the top order.
Earlier Quetta made two changes in the squad which lost to United Tuesday night. They dropped Cameron Delport and Naseem Shah by bringing in Usman Khan and Qais Ahmed. Multan made three changes as they brought in Shan Masood, Imran Tahir and Imran Khan Senior, giving rest to Chris Lynn, Shahid Afridi and Usman Qadir. Asif Yaqoob and Faisal Afridi supervised the match.