Recent Match Report – Zalmi vs Gladiators 25th Match 2022/23
Quetta Gladiators 243 for 2 (Roy 145*, Hafeez 41*, Mujeeb 1-38) beat Peshawar Zalmi 240 for 2 (Babar 115, Ayub 74, Pretorius 1-40) by eight wickets
Fresh off a stint with his national side in Bangladesh, he picked up in Rawalpindi where he’d left off in Mirpur. A blow-by-blow account of the frenzy wouldn’t quite do justice to the fluid, liquid nature of the innings, one six morphing into the next, one over blending into the other. For Zalmi’s bowlers, it began to look like a fever dream as one big over followed another, and the bowlers took turns to front up and cop a hiding. Each of the first eight overs saw at least two boundaries scored, and by this time, Gladiators had got themselves to 118 for one, having knocked off half the target with 12 overs still to spare.
There were supporting acts from the other end, but Roy demanded attention, and gobbled up all of it. Will Smeed and Mohammad Hafeez were adept in their own right, denying Zalmi breathing room at the other end as the asking rate steadily came down. After a pair of relatively quiet overs around the halfway mark, any hopes Zalmi harboured of making inroads were blown away around the 16th over, when six successive balls straddling two overs went for boundaries, effectively sealing Zalmi’s fate. Mohammed Hafeez, who has battled personal trauma over the last 24 hours, was magnificently composed, his 18-ball 41 one of the finest T20 cameos of this season.
But ultimately, it had to be Roy who would have the last laugh. It was a caressed drive over mid-off that went all the way for the final six of a manic game that overwhelmed a dazed Zalmi, meaning their route through to the playoffs suddenly leaves them with no margin for error.
All of that will ultimately swallow up what was a phenomenal batting performance from Zalmi themselves, particularly their openers. After Ayub was dropped by Naseem Shah early off Hasnain, the two blasted their way through the powerplay, amassing 67 in six overs. But they carried on as if the fielding restrictions hadn’t been eased, and Gladiators had no response to the onslaught coming their way.
By the 10th over, the 100-partnership had been reached, and both players had scored half-centuries. But on the day, Babar wasn’t simply accumulating, he was matching Ayub’s strike rate toe-to-toe. They brought up only the second 150-run stand in PSL history – Babar was involved in the first one, too, with Sharjeel Khan at Karachi Kings – and when Ayub fell for a 34-ball 74, Zalmi had pushed past 160.
There was a slight deceleration as Babar approached three figures, but once he got there, he let out a yelp of delight. The shackles were off the innings once more, against a Gladiators side who were dropping catches and committing misfields like they were going out of style. Thirty-three runs came off the last two overs as Zalmi piled on the misery, and by the halfway stage, they looked to have sealed their spot in the last four, as well as Gladiators’ fate.
Roy, and a majestic Gladiators, had other ideas.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000