Quetta Gladiators 176 to 7 (Usman Khan 81, Dhani 3-44) beat Multan Sultan 154 (Rizwan 66, Qais Ahmad 3-21) with 22 runs
On the 14th try, the unthinkable happened: the team that lost the throw and asked to hit first won the match in the 2021 Pakistan Super League.
Without a win in their first four games of the season, the Quetta Gladiator was an unlikely candidate to break that infamous chase record, and it was an unlikely contender that fired them to a defensible total. Usman Khan, making his official T20 debut at the age of 25, hit 81 of 50 balls to lead them to 176 for 7, a total that could and should be much higher but for stumbling in the middle of the overs.
With the ball, the magic of their two main spinners, Qais Ahmad | and Mohammad Nawaz, is key, as Multan Sultan becomes the first team to fail in the pursuit even though it is still half a century away from Mohammad Rizwan – the third round in five rounds to date in this tournament.
Usman Khan’s debut fireworks
All the talk about the Quetta Gladiators coming to this season has revolved around hitting their top sequence, and in particular their two platinum picks on the January draft. At Chris Gayle and Tom Banton, they have a ready-made opening partnership between one of the GOATs in the shortest format and one of the brightest young talents.
Things didn’t go according to plan. Gayle played two innings at No. 3 before leaving for Antigua, won a withdrawal to the West Indies T20I set-up at the age of 41, while Banton was dropped after making nine runs in two innings and watching Wednesday night’s game from self-isolation thereafter. positive testing for Covid-19.
In their absence, anonymous Usman has been drawn from obscurity and played one of the first chapters of the season to date. He was last seen playing in the D20 tournament in the UAE in December, having made several first-class appearances for Karachi Whites in October 2017, but was thrown in alongside 18-year-old Saim Ayub and earned the title. the Gladiators started fast.
Usman is strong all over the ground, but especially the goal square, with a preference for the side of the foot. He specifically punished Carlos Brathwaite, who hit him 27 from 11 balls including four and two six at the end of the 13th minute, but his best shot was a long-time clean shot against Imran Tahir.
The Sultan fought back
Tahir made his first appearance this season, joining the team with Imran Khan and Shan Masood as Usman Qadir, Shahid Afridi and Chris Lynn were not included. It was an emotional night for him, as he dedicated his first goal to his close friend Tahir Mughal, who died in January after battling cancer.
And Tahir’s second goal, which saw him trap Usman lbw while sweeping upside down at 81, triggered a minor collapse. Faf du Plessis had struggled for timing, making a 17 run-a-ball and playing Sohail Khan’s outside the ball following Usman’s sacking, and it took a pair of cameos from Azam Khan and Mohammad Nawaz to drag the Gladiators down to 176 for 7 after their 20 overs.
Shahnawaz Dhani hit some outstanding York players on the brink of death, managed to pull off the old ball at high speed, but struggled for consistency and ultimately conceded 44 of his four overs.
Rizwan’s strong start
Rizwan and James Vince got off to a good start, racing 53rd for 0 in the powerplay to stay level with the pace needed as they capitalized on the loose start of the Gladiator tailors and feasted on legspinner Zahid Mahmood. Sarfaraz Ahmed also burned down the reviews of his two teams from the start.
But Qais and Nawaz stepped in after the power play and braked immediately. Qais knocked out Vince in the first half, gave Sarfaraz the lead, and pinned Shan Masood lbw to try to sweep in the second half. Four overs immediately after power play resulted in only 16 runs, leaving the required level at 10.8.
Rizwan took the lead in the rebuilding work, defending against Sarfaraz’s upbeat screams in the 49th minute but striking a punch with fluency that defined his tournament, but Qais scored for the third time when Rilee Rossouw latched onto a fine leg. Sohaib Maqsood went into hiding for a long time, leaving Khushdil Shah as Rizwan’s only real support, and despite getting a third of the price from Dale Steyn, his rates continued to outpace them.
The curse is broken
Mohammad Hasnain made two high-speed bowling breakthroughs in his third over, knocking out Shah and Brathwaite, leaving Rizwan the last man standing. He hid from Mahmood, which saw Sohail catch the ball later, and should have had a hat-trick but for Ben Cutting’s drop midway through. Tahir scores a six on the blanket from Hasnain, but the Gladiators manage to close the game.
Gladiators were still at the bottom of the net run-rate, with points on par with Sultans. Both sides have identical records, have lost four of their five games, and are already in real danger of losing the play-offs.
Matt Roller is assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweeted at @ mroller98