All Quetta Gladiators would be hoping for after a terrible start to their HBL Pakistan Super League season is a smell. They did get more than that on Thursday night at the Gaddafi Stadium on a soggy night, but the hosts Lahore Qalandars snatched the game from their grasp and won it by 17 runs.
As a consequence, the Qalandars, who had five victories in their previous six games, maintained their lead in the rankings, while the Gladiators, who had only one victory in their previous six games, were forced to bear the brunt of their sorrow at the bottom of the standings. The Lahore bowlers caused a collapse for Sarfraz Ahmed and company after openers Will Smeed and Yasir Khan had given them a solid start.
Sikandar Raza had pulled the Qalandars out of serious danger and set the Gladiators a fightable goal of 149 to chase. Shaheen Shah Afridi was penalized by Smeed for twice pitching one outside off-stump in the slot, as he drove him for two consecutive fours in the opening over. With a top edge off of Haris Rauf, Yasir scored his first goal before Smeed added four more.
Sikandar Raza & Rashid Khan lead Lahore Qalandars to Victory
Until Yasir was caught behind off Haris on the penultimate ball of the sixth over, with the Gladiators leading 53-1 at the conclusion of the powerplay, the openers were at ease against the Qalandars’ pacers. After then, the visitors were unable to recover, and Rashid Khan’s lbw catch of Smeed in the seventh over marked the beginning of their downfall. Mohammad Hafeez was run out by David Wiese after Quetta went two overs without scoring a boundary.
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In the eleventh over, Rashid came back to sharply spin one past Iftikhar Ahmed to force an edge of the right-bat hander before Martin Guptill off Wiese connected with Abdullah Shafique at the cow-corner boundary. The next player to go was Odean Smith, who gave Haris a top edge, allowing wicketkeeper Sam Billings to collect a simple catch. In the last over, Haris sent Mohammad Nawaz’s stumps flickering as the Quetta team struggled even more to score runs.
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The Gladiators needed to score 25 runs in the last over, but pacer Zaman Khan easily stopped them despite giving up one six as Sarfraz returned after an unnecessary run-a-ball, 28-ball 27, run-out. Qalandars had a difficult time getting going with the bat because the wicket gave quick bowlers bounce and movement. At one point, when the Gladiator’s pacers had exhausted their batting order, they were reeling at 50-7 until Sikandar Raza’s counterattacking performance of 71 off 34 balls helped them to a respectable total.
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Rashid’s 20-ball 21 helped the Zimbabwean batter Sikandar Raza in a big way. For the ninth wicket, the pair racked up a 69-run partnership in only 39 balls. Veteran pacer Umaid Asif and Afghan fast Naveen-ul-Haq made their season debuts for the Gladiators as they entered the game with three changes. Nevertheless, Umaid’s first contribution came from the field when Fakhar Zaman of Lahore was taken out by his throw from mid-on. Then, the 38-year-old dismissed Tahir Baig, Fakhar’s opening partner.
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The following over saw a strike from Naveen, who also got Sam Billings, leaving Qalandars in serious difficulty at 16-3. Hussain Talat was then squared by the right arm to finish off the southpaw. Shaheen moved up the order after being seen as a low-value wicket, and it seemed that his move had an effect when he smashed medium-pacer Smith over the offside for a boundary and then added another with a sweep off Mohammad Nawaz’s spin.
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In the ninth over, Shaheen ran himself out before Wiese was caught by Nawaz off his own bowling. Abdullah then flicked Nawaz into his stumps. In the 12th over of Nawaz, Sikandar Raza began his assault with a heave that cleared the midwicket boundary before scooping Umaid behind for another maximum in the next over, which also saw Rashid take on the seasoned bowler for another six and a boundary. In the 16th over, Rashid holed Smith out to Iftikhar in the deep after Sikandar Raza had hit three more boundaries off Naveen.
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Before Naseem Shah removed Haris, the right-hander reached his half-century in 22 balls with a four off him in the 17th over. The Gladiators regretted their oversight as Sikandar Raza smacked Naveen over the covers for two consecutive boundaries and hit a six off Umaid in the final over, having squandered a great opportunity to run him out at the bowling end in the previous over.
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