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Peshawar through to Eliminator 2 in thriller

Peshawar Zalmi snuck out a one-run win over Quetta Gladiators in the Eliminator 1 of the Pakistan Super League at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in what turned out to be a thriller in front of a full house. Chasing a moderate 158 on a good batting surface, Quetta needed 25 runs off the last over. Anwar Ali smashed three sixes and a four in the final over, yet Quetta fell short just by a run, finishing with 156 for 9, thus helping Peshawar set up a date with Karachi Kings in the Eliminator 2.

There was the impending threat of rain with drizzles leading up to the beginning of the clash on Tuesday (March 20). Yet, contrary to what was expected, there was just one interruption early on in the game after Quetta opted to bowl. Just four balls in, the players left the field, but returned 15 minutes later, as Kamran Akmal and Andre Fletcher fell in successive overs.

Tamim Iqbal (27), who joined Peshawar’s squad straight after the conclusion of the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka, held fort with Mohammad Hafeez to stabilise proceedings, adding 44 runs for the third wicket before the pair fell in quick succession. Liam Dawson’s timely half-century, thereafter, kept Peshawar in the game as wickets tumbled at the other end as Rahat Ali returned a four-wicket haul, conceding just 16 runs in four overs.

Peshawar would have finished with a below-par total after a flurry of wickets, but it was the 19th over that was the turning point for them with 17 coming off it. Wahab Riaz dispatched the first two balls of the over to the boundary before Mir Hamza’s over got worse as five overthrows followed. They eventually managed to reach 157 before being bowled out in their quota of overs on the back of Dawson’s 35-ball 62, comprising of four sixes and six fours.

Quetta were pegged back with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Shane Watson and Jason Roy not willing to travel to Pakistan, while Peshawar were boosted by the inclusion of Tamim and Sabbir Rahman. Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who was brought in as a replacement, couldn’t get going, as both openers were back in the hut within three overs. Mohammad Nawaz and Sarfraz Ahmed’s 63-run stand had Quetta back on track in the chase. At that point, it seemed like Quetta was running away with momentum as the partnership grew from strength to strength.

Sameen Gul, however, came in to deal them a double blow, sending back the set batsmen in consecutive deliveries. Mahmudullah chipped in with a handy, but slow, 19, as the required run-rate kept mounting. Hasan Ali bowled a beauty in the 18th, conceding just two runs, leaving Quetta requiring 28 off the last two. Riaz showcased his class in the penultimate over, giving away just three runs and also picking up two wickets, leaving them with 25 to get off the final over.

It seemed like Peshawar had the game in their pocket. But the drama didn’t end there. Dawson, the hero of the first innings, could’ve turned villain, as he took the ball, almost squandered the good work done by the pacers in the previous two overs. Four, six, no run, six, six – read the first five balls of the over with Anwar, who had little to lose, going after Dawson. Three runs were required off the last ball. Anwar was dropped at long on, but the fielder bulleted the throw to the bowler’s end where he whipped off the bails. One run was completed, but the second remained unfinished, or Quetta would’ve had a chance with a Super Over, as Anwar remained unbeaten on 28 that came off just 14 balls, as the game ended in dramatic fashion.

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