Lahore Qalandars skipper Shaheen Afridi set in the rot for Quetta Gladiators and Fakhar Zaman and Kamran Ghulam completed it.
Shaheen grabbed two wickets in the first over and half centuries by Fakhar and Kamran helped Qalandars to eight-wicket victory at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday night, their fifth win in seven matches. The victory not only brought them closer to a playoff spot but also avenged their loss to the Gladiators in the final match of the Karachi leg.
This was a game Qalandars dominated from start to finish, chasing down the 142-run target with enviable ease and ending the Gladiators’ two-match winning run in the HBL Pakistan Super League.
With Shaheen firing with the ball and Fakahr piling up the runs, the Qalandars feel it could finally be their time as they chase a maiden title and came two points closer to leaders at points table and holders Multan Sultans with 10 points. The Gladiators are one of three teams on six.
“We have bowlers with great variation and I’m glad with the way runs are coming for me,” Fakhar, whose 53 was his fifth half-century of the season to go along with a century, said. “The way the team is gelling, I think we can go on to win this.”
A searing first over by Shaheen had put the Gladiators on the back foot, removing their dangermen Jason Roy and James Vince off consecutive deliveries.
Roy’s hitting prowess has proved inspirational for the Gladiators but here, he went for a duck as he charged down to Shaheen who followed him with a short ball down the leg-side which the England opener could only glove to wicket-keeper Phil Salt.
Vince followed next ball with a fuller swinging delivery on middle stump which swung late to dismantle his stumps.
Shaheen was on fire and it required captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who’s unbeaten half-century had made it back-to-back wins for the Gladiators a night earlier, to help with a rebuilding effort.
But the Gladiators captain was run out for 12 thanks to smart fielding by Kamran Ghulam whose direct hit left Sarfraz short of his crease. And they went from 20-3 to 25-4 when opener Ahsan Ali was cleaned up by a Rashid Khan googly.
Umar Akmal (25) broke the shackles with three boundaries and a six as he added 29 with Iftikhar Ahmed but he was gone trying to up the scoring rate when he found Shaheen off David Wiese at mid-off.
It was Iftikhar’s 39-ball 52 which gave the Gladiators a total to defend. Alongside Hassan Khan (17), Iftikhar took the Gladiators past 100 before Wiese removed his partner.
Having clubbed three sixes and two boundaries, Iftikhar fell on the final delivery of the 18th over as he was deceived by Haris Rauf’s change of pace and could only find Abdullah Shafique at backward square leg.
Noor Ahmed (13 not out) hit two boundaries but the writing was on the wall for the Gladiators as the Qalandars enjoyed a stroll.
With Fakhar in devastating form, the target never seemed in doubt even after though his fellow opener Abdullah (19) was dismissed with 101 runs still to get.
He combined with Kamran Ghulam (55 not out) to put victory within reach before he was dismissed in the 16th over by Noor after hitting six fours in his 42-ball innings.
Kamran completed his half-century in the next over before Mohammad Hafeez sealed victory with a six off Hassan.