Table-toppers Quetta target Multan as HBL PSL resumes on Wednesday
Dubai, 19 February 2019:
Unbeaten Quetta Gladiators will aim to keep an unblemished record when they meet Multan Sultan as HBL Pakistan Super League 2019 action shifts to Sharjah on Wednesday.
The Sarfaraz Ahmed led Quetta – twice runners-up in three HBL PSL editions – are looking in no mood to relent as they target the elusive title with their never-say-die approach, under the astute coaching of former Pakistan captain Moin Khan.
It is remarkable how Moin has transformed a squad what does not have any iconic names but play with a winning spirit and determination.
Quetta thumped arch-rivals Peshawar in their first match of HBL PSL 4, keeping them to 155 for four, courtesy some tight bowling led by left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who finished with two for 25 in his four overs. Umar Akmal, former Pakistan batsman, determined to regain his place in the national team, then batted in a punishing style as he took Quetta over the line with a polished and eye-catching 50-ball 75 not out laced with three sixes and seven boundaries.
Quetta’s next victim was Islamabad United who they beat more convincingly by seven wickets. This time left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir, who rocked the title-holders with a prized wicket of Luke Ronchi off the very first ball of the match, finishing with four for 21. Pakistan origin Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed chipped in with three for 15.
Although Islamabad managed to reach 157 for eight, it didn’t prove much for Quetta who rode on Shane Watson’s aggressive 55-ball 81 not with four sixes and six boundaries and another commanding 28-ball 44 (two sixes and five boundaries) by Umar Akmal to seal the win with 10 balls to spare.
Multan Sultans had mixed fortunes in the first two games they have played to date, losing to Karachi Kings before staging a recovery with a win against Islamabad.
Multan did give Karachi a scare before going down by seven runs in a match highlighted by a new HBL PSL opening stand between Karachi openers Liam Livingstone (82) and Babar Azam (77). Multan fought hard in the chase of 184 with skipper Shoaib Malik (28-ball 52 with two sixes and five boundaries) and Laurie Evans (39-ball 49 with seven fours), but in the end a last over target of 16 proved beyond their tail-enders’ reach.
Multan then showed their bowling prowess against Islamabad, restricting them to 125 for seven with newcomer Ali Shafiq (two for 11), evergreen Shahid Afridi (two for 18) and hardworking Junaid Khan (two for 33) sharing the spoils. Shoaib Malik then anchored the chase with a solid 29-ball 31, but it was Shahid Afridi who sealed the win with two sixes.
Multan will hope they win the toss and break Quetta’s dominance of fielding first and then chasing a target. But if Quetta captain Sarfaraz Ahmed is once again lucky with the toss, then it will be tough for Multan.
Wednesday (match 8) – Multan Sultans v Quetta Gladiators, Sharjah (match starts 9pm PST)
Thursday (match 9) – Karachi Kings v Peshawar Zalmi, Sharjah (match starts 9pm PST)
Friday (match 10) – Lahore Qalandars v Multan Sultans, Sharjah (match starts 430pm PST)
Friday (match 11) – Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi, Sharjah (match starts 9pm PST)