The Report by Peter Della Penna
Quetta Gladiators 148 for 7 (Sarfaraz 52*, Ahsan Ali 40, Haris Rauf 2-25) beat Lahore Qalandars 143 for 7 (De Villiers 45, Sohail Akhtar 29, Ghulam Mudassar 3-21, Sohail Tanvir 2-21) by three wickets
How the game unfolded
Quetta Gladiators benefitted from Lahore’s inability to hit the stumps with six missed run-out chances as Sarfaraz Ahmed showed his cat-like survival skills to keep his side undefeated in PSL 2019 with a three-wicket win off the final ball in Sharjah. Despite two late wickets, including David Wiese yorking Anwar Ali to start the 20th with seven needed to win, Sarfaraz saw Gladiators over the line clubbing the last ball over the deep midwicket rope, bringing up his half-century in the process.
The loss for Qalandars was compounded by an injury to AB de Villiers, who tweaked his lower back diving to make his ground late in the first innings on a dicey call by Yasir Shah, who was attempting to get off the mark and get de Villiers back on strike for a late surge. Even before suffering the back complaint, de Villiers was not at his best as he struggled to find the boundary. He only hit two fours in his 40-ball 45, then curiously opted to take a single midway through the final over with Sandeep Lamichhane at the other end, consequently making it the only ball he faced in the 20th. The severity of his injury became clearer when he failed to take the field for the Gladiators chase.
Despite only having 143 to defend, Qalandars created plenty of opportunities to tie down Gladiators, but failed to take the majority of them. Six clear run-out chances were missed, three of them on Sarfaraz alone. With 27 needed off the last three overs, Sarfaraz struck Wiese for two boundaries – one over extra cover and the other pulled behind square – as part of a 13-run over to bring Gladiators closer to victory before defeating Wiese again at the death.
After nearly running himself out third ball in the 18th, Yasir not only almost ran out de Villers on the next ball with another terrible call but in the process triggered the sequence that caused the injury to de Villiers. He was on 39 at the time and only managed to add six more runs across the last 14 balls.
Sarfaraz was given out lbw to a yorker first ball after coming to the crease following the wicket of Umar Akmal at 53 for 3 in the 8th over of the chase. The decision was overturned on review as replays showed it to be missing leg. Crucially, Corey Anderson’s run-out of Sarfaraz was negated by virtue of the ball being declared dead at the moment of the initial lbw decision.
With two to get off the final ball and Sarfaraz on 46 off 35 balls, Wiese’s attempted yorker just missed, going too full as Sarfaraz heaved a shin high full toss barely over deep midwicket to end the match.
Star of the day
Lost in much of the drama of Sarfaraz’s unbeaten knock was Ghulam Mudassar’s sensational spell in the first innings. He had Salman Butt flicking to deep backward square leg inside the Powerplay before bouncing out the dangerous looking Sohail Akhtar for 29 next ball. A pinpoint yorker trapped Gauhar Ali in the 18th before he conceded just seven runs off the 20th, which turned out to be crucial in the end.
The big miss
Which one? There were six run-out chances officially for Qalandars. The unofficial run-out chance negated by the dead ball on Sarfaraz’s overturned lbw referral seemed to curse Qalandars. He subsequently survived run-out chances on 5, 7, 16. The only run-out chance Qalandars converted was when they didn’t have to throw the ball at the stumps as Fakhar Zaman ran all the way from extra cover to knock the bails off himself at the non-striker’s end after Sarfaraz sold Dwayne Smith down the river for 2.
Where the teams stand
Gladiators solidified their position at the top of the table, having won four from four matches to go to eight points, four clear of the nearest side. Qalandars remain in a three-way tie for second on four points, but are fourth on net run rate behind Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United, not to mention have played one more match.