Usman, Abbas send Gladiators packing

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RAWALPINDI: Usman Khan’s sensational stroke-making display rewrote record books, smashing the fastest-ever Pakistan Super League (PSL) century as Multan Sultans put curtains on Quetta Gladiators season eight campaign at the end of the penultimate day’s show at the Pindi Stadium Saturday.

In what turned out to be a day full of excitement, records, and thrill for the packed-to-capacity crowd, Usman’s amazing hitting saw Multan Sultan pile up a PSL record 262 for 3 and then it was left to Abbas Afridi (5-47) who performed fifth hat-trick of PSL history to restrict Quetta to 253 for 8 in 20 overs-the best ever T20 score by a team batting second. In the process, Afridi also becomes the highest wicket-taker in the ongoing PSL.

Mohammad Aamir, Junaid Khan, Imran Tahir, and Mohammad Sami have already achieved a hat-trick in previous PSL matches. Abbas took Mohammad Nawaz (16), Umaid Asif (0), and on the first ball of next over Umar Akmal (28) to seal his hat-trick.

The highest aggregate T20 score also tumbled on Saturday surpassing the South African T20 League’s Titans and Knight 501 total scored last year. Quetta and Multan scored on Saturday and yielded 515 runs in total.

The day however will more be remembered by Usman’s power-packed show as he emulated Rilee Rossouw’s Friday efforts. His 36-ball hundred was studded with nine sixes and 14 fours in all. The new face of PSL, Usman is fresh from striking a century in Bangladesh League and spent most of his recent time in UAE in an effort to play for the gulf country. The former Karachi batsman also played two first-class matches almost six years back, He again surfaced on the Pakistan domestic scene Saturday with a dazzling show. Usman’s hits on Saturday were fluent and forceful. In a single Qais Ahmad over, Usman smashed 27 runs including three sixes and two fours. That also happened to be the last over of the Multan Sultans power-play which saw Rizwan and Usman stealing 91 runs, the second-highest in PSL history. Usman struck two more sixes in stand-in skipper Mohammad Nawaz. That was not all as Usman again stepped up the pace to smash Qais for yet another 27 runs in the ninth over as the Afghan bowler was seen conceding 54 of the two overs. In the process, Usman also completed his century-the fastest ever by a batsman in PSL history.

The first ten overs saw Multan reaching a record 156 for no loss with Mohammad Rizwan almost taking a back in face of a tremendous hitting display unleashed by Usman.

Usman was finally stumped off a wide Nawaz delivery on which he charged down only to see Umar Akmal removing his stumps. His blitz was enough to set an improbable target for Quetta to chase. For a change, Rossouw (15) could not survive long, presenting an easy catch to Nawaz at extra cover. Qais also had Rizwan (55) caught by Omar following his 26-ball fifty that contained two sixes and six boundaries. Tim David (43 not out) and Kieron Pollard (23 not out) were seen combining in 58 runs in 5.5 overs as Multan reached 263 for 3.

The unprecedented chase was kept alive by Omair Yousaf (67), Iftikhar Ahmad (53), and Umar Akmal’s 10 ball 28. However, no one stayed till the end to ensure a win for Quetta which was of utmost importance for their chances to stay in the competition. Omar and Iftikhar revived Quetta’s hopes for a brief period with 104 runs stand for the fourth wicket but once the two separated it was nothing more than playing for a losing cause. Omair smashed seven boundaries and three sixes in his innings while Iftikhar had four sixes and four boundaries to his credit.

Abbas was declared Man of the Match ahead of Usman Khan for helping his side win the match on a placid Pindi Stadium track. “I kept a decent line and length and was interested in bowling yorkers in which I succeeded. I am happy to perform hat-trick and at the same time to become the highest wicket-taker in the PSL,” Abbas who picked ten wickets at Pindi Stadium said.

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