RAWALPINDI: Martin Guptill’s (86 not out) kept Quetta Gladiators’ alive when they put Karachi Kings out of the event by inflicting a convincing win over them in their crucial game of the HBL PSL 8 here at the Pindi Stadium Rawalpindi on Monday.
Guptill’s swash-buckling innings saw Gladiators setting a 165-run target for Gladiators.
When the match entered the 17th over it looked all but over for the Gladiators as they required 57 to achieve an improbable target. Guptil’s sensational innings saw them crossing the line yet again. It was Guptill’s century that helped Gladiators win against Karachi Kings during the first leg and yet again he stayed at the forefront. The New Zealander smashed nine boundaries and four towering sixes during his 56-ball unbeaten knock to carry the day. He got off to a slow start but picked up the momentum during the last four overs. James Fuller’s fourth over where he conceded 24 runs opened up the possibilities for Quetta.
The slow-going Quetta Gladiators required more than 12 runs per over during the last six overs with half of the team already back in the hut. Iftikhar Ahmad (4), Najibullah Zadran (1), and Umar Akmal (9) were the middle-order failures for Quetta which never looked in threatening mode throughout the early part of the match.
Martin Guptill was the only hope for the Gladiators going into the 17th over. When the New Zealander smashed Mohammad Aamir to leg-side six and repeated that feat two balls later against James Fuller followed by a boundary, it sparked fresh smiles on Gladiators’ faces. Guptill smashed 24 runs of Fuller’s same over to tilt the tide in favour of Gladiators.
The hard-hitting Guptill never saw behind cashing in on each possible opportunity of scoring with utmost precision. Even the likes of Mohammad Amir (0-37) could not make impression on Guptill who was literally toying with Karachi’s attack going into the 17th over. Sarafraz Ahmad (29) also gave him good company ensuring from the other end that explosive Guptill stays in top gear.
Once Tabraiz Shamsi (2-20) quota was over and Imad Wasim (1-6) left the ground with injury after delivering just one over, things got easy for Gladiators.
Earlier, Karachi Kings hit a reasonable 164 for 6 in 20 overs after being put into bat first. The innings mainly revolved around Adam Rossington (69) and Imad Wasim’s (30 not out) yet another encouraging innings.
Kings innings started with high drama as Mathew Wade (0) was picked up by Naseem Shah (2-31) on the very first delivery of the match. Wade had no opportunity to avoid a sizzler from Shah, edging it to keeper Sarfaraz Ahmad. Youngsters Tayyab Tahir (7) and Qasim Akram (8) could not survive long at the crease.
When aging and tired-looking Shoaib Malik (13) lost his wicket, things went from bad to worse for Karachi Kings. Imad again stood up to the task as he has been doing throughout the PSL 8. Together with Rossington, he started re-establishing King’s innings and in the process played some powerful shots. Rossington’s leg side six from an orthodox position to 144kph Naseem Shah’s delivery was a treat to watch. Both put on 46 runs for the fifth wicket to make certain Karachi Kings stay on course for a total over 160. Rossington smashed ten boundaries and a six during his 45-ball innings that was finally stopped by a combination of Afghan players with Naveenul Haq (1-43) taking his only wicket on the day. Imad’s unbeaten 20-ball knock contained three fours and one six. Aamer Yamin’s (23 not out) used a long handle smashing two towering sixes and one four during his 11-ball unbeaten stay at the wickets that gave the innings a real impetus. Aimal Khan who showed some firepower was the most impressive of bowlers picking up 2 for 26 for the Gladiators.
Quetta now have four of eight matches with Karachi also four of nine matches they have played.