Defending champions Quetta Gladiators draw first blood in PSL V. In the high-voltage affair between two of the very consistent teams in the history of PSL – Gladiators and Islamabad United – was tipped to go down to the wire but in the end, Quetta coasted home with three wickets and five balls to spare.
Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bowl first which proved to be the right move as Quetta confined Islamabad on a slightly below-par total of 168. The lone-ranger, David Malan slammed a 64-run-knock but apart from him, nobody managed to convert their starts into substantial scores.
Mohammad Hasnain started his PSL V campaign akin to the last edition and snapped up four wickets in his brilliant bowling spell. He ran in hard, got the ball to skid through the surface and didn’t allow the batsmen to cut loose.
Islamabad’s innings started off poorly as right on the first delivery, Colin Munro handed an easy caught and bowl to Mohammad Nawaz and whenever there was some semblance of control, Islamabad lost a wicket.
Ben Cutting showed his dexterity in no uncertain terms and unleashed his teasing slower ones, ending up with three wickets in his match-turning spell.
In reply, Quetta stumbled early on as well and Jason Roy departed without troubling the scorers. He got pinned LBW on the second delivery and Musa lifted the entire United team with the early scalp.
Shane Watson got involved in a terrible mix-up and got run-out on just 15 that, in turn, rung alarm bells for reigning champions but they recovered well after losing two big fish. Ahmed Shehzad’s brief stay increased Quetta woes for some time. Faheem Ashraf took a sprawling catch at mid-on to send the opener back in the hut.
Things begin to calm down as Sarfaraz Ahmed and power-hitter Azam Khan knitted a match-winning partnership. Sarfaraz amassed 21 off 18 deliveries while Azam hogged the limelight with his clean striking. Moin Khan’s son raced to a half-century and totally changed the complexion of the game.
Quetta’s skipper untimely departure gave a glimmer of hope to Islamabad to make a return in the match but all those hopes were dashed when Nawaz cameo of 23 off 13 and then Ben Cutting’s unbeaten knock of 22 off 12 got Quetta over the line with a lot of ease.
Musa bagged three wickets and was the pick of the bowlers while Akif Javed made quite an impression with his bag of tricks. The rising star bowled tremendous yorkers, bumpers and he is definitely one for the future. Akif returned figures of 1/21 in his quota of overs. Faheem Ashraf did what he does best; he bowled at the nagging lines and maintained the pressure in the middle overs.
However, Shadab Khan will have to bear the brunt of the blame because of his abysmal bowling performance, especially as the captain. The captain didn’t lead from the front and bled 46 runs in 3.3 overs. Amad Butt started his spell positively but then Azam took him to the cleaners.