KARACHI - Shane Watson steered Quetta Gladiators to Pakistan Super League 2019 final after narrowly defeating fighting Peshawar Zalmi by 10 runs in the nail-biting encounter played here at National Stadium on late Wednesday night.

Watson first delivered for Gladiators with the willow and then was handed over the responsibility of bowling the last over against the well-settled power-hitters duo of Pollard and Sammy, but despite being hit for a massive six on the second ball, Watson kept his cool and clean-bowled Pollard on the third delivery to almost ensure Gladiators survive anxious moments and reach the mega final for the third time in last four editions.

Earlier, chasing a daunting 187 runs for victory, Zalmi started the chase on a slow note, as openers Kamran Akmal and Imam-ul-Haq scored 41 runs for the opening stand in 5.6 overs. In-form Kamran Akmal failed to come up to the occasion as he was out after scoring 22 runs. Imam, on the other hand, did score a few runs, but as all know, he is not a natural striker of the ball and wasted too many precious deliveries.

The run-rate was ever climbing and wickets were falling like nine pins. Sammy, rather than keeping eye on the run-rate, sent Misbah and Dawson ahead of well-known power-hitter Pollard and the move failed to bring desired results, as both Misbah and Dawson failed to score quick runs, just when it seemed the things were slipping out of Zalmi’s hands. They required around 12 runs in an over with 5 wickets remaining and Pollard and Sammy not only kept Zalmi in the hunt but also gave pack to capacity crowd something to cheer about.

Pollard was looking very dangerous as he scored quick-fire 44 in just 22 with the help of 6 boundaries and 1 six, while Sammy used the long handle and almost took Zalmi at the brink as they needed 21 runs in the last over. Sarfraz had used all his main bowlers, while he had to suffer a huge set back, when leg spinner Fawad Ahmed, who had bowled 1.2 overs, was badly hit in the face while stopping a powerful shot by Imam.

Sarfraz then decided to gamble and threw the ball towards Shane Watson to bowl the final over. Watson bowled a very clever first delivery as Pollard tried to hit the ball, but he failed to connect. On the very next delivery, Pollard hit the ball out of the park, which resulted in Zalmi requiring 17 runs on 4 balls. But on the third delivery, Watson clean-bowled Pollard and all Zalmi hopes of registering highly unlikely victory vanished as Sammy was run out.

Wahab Riaz failed to hit the ball, which went to Sarfraz, who calmly threw the ball at the stumps and rest was history, as Watson only conceded 10 runs in his over and also took a wicket of Pollard. Sammy scored whirlwind 46 off 21 balls. Hasnain was the pick of Gladiator bowlers with 2 wickets for 28, while Watson was named player of the match for his all-round performances.

Earlier, Zalmi skipper Darren Sammy won the toss and opted to field first. It turned out to be a good toss to win, as soon in-form Ahmed Shahzad was back in the pavilion. Youngster Ahsan Ali joined Watson and both put on 111-run partnership for the third wicket.

 After smashing 46 off 32 deliveries, Ahsan was finally out. But Watson kept on hitting gathered 71 off 40 balls with the help of 5 boundaries and 6 towering sixes.

Gladiators were looking all set to post at least 200 plus on the board, but some highly irresponsible batting by their middle order made Zalmi’s task easier as at one stage, Gladiators had scored 165-5 in 17.3 overs and Sarfraz was next to go at 173-6 in 18.3 overs, but they could only add further 13 runs in 9 deliveries, which restricted them to 186-6. Wahab Riaz took 2 wickets for 26.

Scorecard

QUETTA GLADIATORS:

SR Watson b Wahab Riaz 71

Ahmed Shehzad b Mills 1

Ahsan Ali lbw b Sameen Gul 46

RR Rossouw c & b Pollard 11

Umar Akmal c Imam b Wahab Riaz 22

Sarfaraz Ahmed c Dawson b Hasan Ali 12

DJ Bravo not out 12

Mohammad Nawaz not out 2

EXTRAS: (lb 3, nb 1, w 5) 9

TOTAL: (6 wkts, 20 overs) 186

FOW: 1-3, 2-114, 3-125, 4-137, 5-165, 6-173.

BOWLING: Hasan Ali 4-0-39-1, TS Mills 4-0-21-1, LA Dawson 2-0-27-0, Wahab Riaz 4-0-26-2, Sameen Gul 4-0-46-1, KA Pollard 2-0-24-1.

PESHAWAR ZALMI:

Kamran Akmal c Rossouw b Hasnain 22

Imam-ul-Haq b Rossouw 23

Sohaib Maqsood c & b M Nawaz 7

Misbah-ul-Haq lbw b Hasnain 18

LA Dawson c sub b Ahsan Ali 5

KA Pollard b Watson 44

DJG Sammy run out 46

Wahab Riaz not out 0

Hasan Ali not out 3

EXTRAS: (lb 3, w 5) 8

TOTAL: (7 wkts, 20 overs) 176

FOW: 1-41, 2-55, 3-61, 4-69, 5-90, 6-173, 7-173.

BOWLING: Mohammad Nawaz 4-0-25-1, Sohail Tanvir 4-0-38-0, Mohammad Hasnain 4-1-28-2, DJ Bravo 4-0-52-0, Fawad Ahmed 1.2-0-8-0, RR Rossouw 0.4-0-3-1, Ahsan Ali 1-0-9-1, SR Watson 1-0-10-1.

TOSS: Peshawar Zalmi

UMPIRES: Ranmore Martinesz, Ahsan Raza

TV UMPIRES: Asif Yaqoob

RESERVE UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz

MATCH REFEREE: Roshan Mahanama