By our correspondent
RAWALPINDI: Rilee Rossouw (121) smashed Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) fastest century as Multan Sultan powered into the Play-offs, chasing down a record 243 runs winning target against hapless Peshawar Zalmi at the Pindi Stadium Friday.
Rossouw’s 41-ball hundred bettered his own 43-ball century record set in 2019 against Quetta Gladiator in Multan. The hard-hitting South African batsman’s power-packed innings outshone Peshawar Zalmi’s top-order performance, snatching an incredible win for his team, more importantly, a place in the Play-offs. Zalmi bowlers for the second match in running failed to defend over 240 runs target-first against Gladiators and then on Friday against Rossouw-led Multan. When Kohler Cadmore finally took a diving catch to remove Rossouw, he already had hit eight sixes and 12 fours in his 51-ball hurricane innings. By that time he, however, had ensured Multan’s success as it was just a matter of time before the rest of the lot crossed over the line. An eight-ball 24 not out by Anwar Ali was enough at the end to seal the win and a place in the top four of the PSL for Multan Sultans.
The innings that Rossouw played was packed with power and accuracy as he did not spare any of the Zalmi bowlers again exposing their weakness.
Rilee Rossouw smashed a 17-ball fifty, the joint fastest of the PSL. Kamran Akmal and Asif Ali previously achieved the feat in 17 balls too. He continued his rampage striking another six to Arshad Iqbal, It was Kieron Pollard (52) who was seen cutting loose in between smashing three consecutive sixes to Mujeeb before scooping Wahab to Azmatullah. His 25-ball innings contained five sixes and three fours. Though Tim David (2) was removed early by Azmatullah Omarzai, Rossouw continued his striking prowess to narrow down the winning target. Even the Pindi Stadium crowd which mostly backed the Zalmi team enjoyed Rilee Rossouw’s fearless innings.
“When you face such a big total you have to start from the word go and I tried to do that. My efforts were not to leave any ball without hitting it-mostly I succeeded in that,” Rossouw who was outstanding on the day, said.
He termed his innings as one of the best ever. “When you face such a huge total, you always play under pressure. I am glad that I stayed cool and in the end won it for my team.”
Stand-in Zalmi captain Kohler Cadmore who led the field following Babar Azam’s absence (who was not feeling well) said that his team was beaten by two splendid innings (by Rossouw and Pollard). “Yet, I feel that variety is a must in your bowling armory.”
Earlier, top-order Zalmi’s batting led by a scintillating 73 by skipper Babar Azam put a record 242 for 6 total on the board.
Peshawar Zalmi raised their fifty in 4.4 overs and when the power-play was over they already reached 64 without losing a wicket.
Babar cantered to his fifty in just 26 balls-the first time ever he achieved the feat in less than 30 balls. His fifty included eight fours and one six.
With Saim Ayub (58) he again raised a century stand-this time around from just 8.3 overs as Saim Ayub struck a fluent four to Pollard. Minutes later Saim was dropped by Mohammad Rizwan as his full-blooded dive saw him just taping the ball to the boundary.
At halfway stage, Zalmi piled up 115 without losing a wicket. Babar was going great guns, scoring 66 of just 33 balls an apt response to his critics who raised questions on his slow T20 batting approach.
Saim’s 30-ball fifty came with an exciting drive from Pollard. By that time he had already struck four sixes and four boundaries. He struck one more boundary before falling to Usama Mir as Abbas Afridi took a well-judged catch in front of the boundary rope. Both raised 134 for the opening wicket. Soon Babar (73) followed edging Rizwan of Abbas. By that time he already had struck two sixes and nine boundaries during his 39-ball stay at the wicket.
Zalmi were left to see the outcome of Saturday’s match between Multan and Quetta to see their chances of making it to the Play-offs. Zami will also have to play their last match against Islamabad United on Sunday where a win could still see them going through.