Khawaja Nafay shines in Gladiators second successive win

By our correspondent
LAHORE: Quetta Gladiators registered their second win of HBL PSL 9 as they sealed the game against home team, Lahore Qalandars, by a margin of five wickets at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Monday night.

Khawaja Nafay, playing his second HBL PSL game, starred with a glitzy unbeaten half-century after walking into bat at number three. Shaheen Shah Afridi-led Lahore Qalandars succumbed to their second consecutive loss.

In pursuit of a challenging 188-run target against the home team, Quetta Gladiators’ opening batters once again gave the team a solid start. Saud flicked Shaheen Shah Afridi toward deep fine on the last ball of opening over to register his first boundary of the game.

On the last ball of the third over, he hit Shaheen for an outrageous six over the keeper’s head. Jason Roy too joined him in the act as he hit Jahandad Khan for two boundaries in the fifth over. The duo brought up fifty-partnership in five overs while the powerplay yielded 61 runs.

Saud (40, 23b, 7x4s, 1×6) was outfoxed by a Zaman Khan yorker on the fifth ball of the seventh over giving Lahore their first breakthrough. Three balls later Sikandar Raza hit Roy’s stumps as he departed for 19 ball 24 with the help of four boundaries. The 29-run third-wicket partnership between Rilee Rossouw (18, 13b, 3x4s) and Khawaja Nafay lasted for 19 balls before Haris Rauf got rid of Rossouw in the 11th over.

On the first and fifth ball of the same over, Nafay let loose and hit Haris Rauf for two towering sixes injecting momentum into Quetta’s innings. The 22-year-old held his nerve through challenging times while living up to the hype that led to his arrival at the HBL PSL. Leg-spinner Salman Fayyaz struck in the 14th over to remove Sarfaraz Ahmed, leaving Quetta 130-4 with 58 runs required from 41 balls.

Sherfane Rutherford chipped in with 14 off 12 balls before Shaheen Shah Afridi knocked him over in the 17th over. Nafay brought up his maiden HBL PSL fifty off 29 balls, by hitting Rauf over wide mid-off in the following over.

Quetta chased the 188-run target with five balls to spare and winning runs coming off the bat off Nafay who returned undefeated on 60 off 31 balls, laced with four boundaries and three sixes.

Earlier in the evening, Lahore Qalandars won the toss and opted to bat first. Akeal Hosein took the new ball for Quetta. Fakhar Zaman got an early reprieve on the second ball of the opening over as he chipped the ball to Mohammad Wasim Jnr in the covers who dropped an easy catch.

Fakhar’s (6, 9b) struggle came to an end on the first ball of the third over as he handed a straight catch to Jason Roy at mid-on..

Sahibzada Farhan and Rassie Van der Dussen upped the ante with a few boundaries in the powerplay despite a disciplined start by Quetta’s bowlers. Lahore finished the powerplay with 43 runs for the loss of one wicket.

Abrar Ahmed was introduced to the attack in the seventh over of the innings and he tested Sahibzada with tight lines who replied with a four over extra cover and six over deep mid-wicket on the last two balls of the over.

Abrar returned an over later to tilt the balance of the game in Quetta’s favour by removing Rassie van der Dussen, with a ball that pitched on good length slightly outside off-stump and deceived the batter with a bit of turn before crashing into the stumps.

At the halfway mark Lahore found themselves 67 for two with Abdullah Shafique joining Sahibzada in the middle.

Wasim Jnr delivered a dramatic 11th over that saw Sahibzada being dropped at the third man area by Mohammad Hasnain while three balls later Abdullah bludgeoned the ball into stands for a towering six.

Sahibzada brought up his half-century off 39 balls, his second consecutive HBL PSL half-century. The fifth ball of the 13th over saw Sahibzada (62, 43b, 6x4s, 3x6s) removed by Hasnain, caught by Nafay, before hitting back-to-back sixes in the same over. Left-hand batter Jahandad was promoted up the order and he came out all guns blazing hitting the first ball for four, a harbinger of what was to follow.

Abdullah (11, 10b, 1×6) departed in the 14th over after he was caught behind off the bowling off Hosein. Jahandad and Sikandar Raza got together to stitch a quick-fire partnership of 45 runs off just 21 balls. Jahandad amassed 23 runs off the 16th over against Abrar, where he hit three massive sixes, showcasing his pinch-hitting ability. The partnership was broken by Mohammad Amir who dismissed Raza (18, 12b, 1×4, 1×6) on the fourth ball of the 17th over.

Lahore collected 34 runs off the last three overs as they ended on 187 for seven in their 20 overs. Skipper Shaheen chipped in with a cameo of 12 off eight balls, which included a first-ball six, while Jahandad finished 45 not out off just 17 balls, smashing three fours and four maximums.

For Quetta, Hasnain and Hosein bagged two wickets apiece while Amir, Wasim Jnr and Abrar chipped in with one wicket each.

Scores in brief:

Quetta Gladiators beat Lahore Qalandars by five wickets

Lahore Qalandars 187-7, 20 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 62, Jahandad Khan 45 not out; Akeal Hosein 2-17)

Quetta Gladiators 188-5, 19.1 overs (Khawaja Nafay 60 not out, Saud Shakeel 40; Sikandar Raza 1-25)

Player of the match – Khawaja Nafay (Quetta Gladiators)

Tomorrow’s fixture: Multan Sultan vs Islamabad United, Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan (7pm)

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