Quetta Gladiators finally succeeded in their quest to win the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the third time of asking. Having lost in two previous finals, they were not to be denied in the 2019 edition.
Sarfraz Ahmed led his team to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Peshawar Zalmi in Karachi on Sunday with 12 balls to spare, beating them for a fourth time this year. Prior to the final, they enjoyed two league wins over their opponents before getting the better of them in the Qualifier as well.
Mohammad Hasnain was the pick of the Quetta bowlers as he delivered figures of 3-30 with the opposition restricted to just 138/8. The target was chased down with relative ease courtesy of a fine half century from Ahmed Shehzad.
Quetta won the toss and elected to field, a decision that started to seem like the right one early on. Sohail Tanvir’s tight opening over of just two runs set things up nicely before teenage quick Hasnain made the breakthrough in the following over, claiming the wicket of Immam-ul-Haq (4) and breaking up Peshawar’s dangerous opening pair. The left-hander charged down the track but was done by the bounce and ended up skying his effort to clear the ropes straight to Shehzad at mid-off.
The experienced Kamran Akmal then took it upon himself to accelerate the innings and went after spinner Mohammad Nawaz in the fourth over, dispatching him for a six and two boundaries. With 14 garnered from the over already though, Akmal needlessly attacked the final delivery, one that Nawaz pitched shorter to beat the batsman with turn and hit the stumps.
Umar Amin set about rebuilding the innings with a handy knock of 38 from 33 balls, playing some well-timed shots along the way. He managed to put together a couple of partnerships with Sohaib Maqsood – who also threatened to cut loose at some point – and then Nabi Gul before the dangerous Hasnain came back into the attack and removed him from the equation with a short delivery which he pulled into the grateful hands of Tanvir on the boundary.
The onus was then on West Indies duo Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy to replicate their big-hitting in the past and salvage Peshawar’s innings with some fireworks in the death overs. But that was not forthcoming. Both batsmen struggled as the Quetta bowling attack kept them under wraps with a fine bowling display full of variation.
Hasnain was at it again when he dismissed Pollard for just seven off 12 deliveries with a mean bouncer, responding to the batsman ruthlessly swatting his previous delivery away for four. The 31-year-old could only get the slightest of edges on the subsequent bouncer which Sarfraz pouched behind the wicket. Sammy was out of sorts and though he batted through to the end, he never found the middle of the bat, consistently mistiming his wild swings and even running out Wahab Riaz embarrassingly during his innings of 18 from 16.
THE OYE HOYE MOMENT!— Cricingif (@_cricingif) March 17, 2019
Youngster Mohammad Hasnain dismissed @KieronPollard55 at an important stage of the innings
Ball-by-ball clips & scorecard 👉 https://t.co/6DBUDl8EUY #QGvPZ #PSL2019 #PSLFinal #KhelDeewanoKa #CricketForAll #OyeHoyeMoments pic.twitter.com/WZyKeBSpDk
Quetta began their chase on the front foot but were perhaps too keen to maintain a high scoring rate as a needless gamble saw main man Shane Watson (7) run out by a direct hit from Amin.
The team recovered well though with fellow opener Shehzad anchoring the innings with his knock of 58 not out from 51 balls, hitting six boundaries and one six in the process. He was ably supported in the middle by Ahsan Ali (25) and Rilee Rossouuw (39*).
The batsmen showed the experienced Wahab Riaz plenty of respect and the bowler finished with 1-19 from his four overs, going at a rate of just 4.75. They played the season’s top wicket-taker Hasan Ali excellently as well, biding their time but capitalising on the loose deliveries.
It was an all-round superb display from the Gladiators in the final and no one can say they haven’t earned the title of 2019 champions.
Having won the toss and elected to field, Safraz Ahmed’s side got off to a fine start as Imam-ul-Haq was dismissed early and they continued to take wickets at regular intervals as Peshawar struggled to a total of 138-8.
Youngster Mohammad Hasnain has been turning heads with his searing pace this season and impressed yet again.
Here, we take a closer look at the 18-year-old’s display.
Dot balls: 9
Hasnain followed the example of the more experienced Sohail Tanvir who put the batsmen under pressure with a tight opening over. The youngster kept his line narrow, affording little room to manoeuvre. He made the early breakthrough for his side, getting rid of Imam-ul-Haq in his first over.
Sarfraz then decided to save the quick’s remaining quota for later on in the innings. He struck immediately once brought back into the attack for the 14th over, dismissing Umar Amin – who had been rebuilding Zalmi’s innings with a knock of 38 from 33 balls – with the first delivery.
Hasnain was proving a tough customer in the death overs and picked up the wicket of the dangerous Kieron Pollard, getting him out caught behind. A couple of streaky boundaries behind the wicket from Darren Sammy in his final over took some shine off the pacer’s figures of 3-30.
Given his height and genuine pace, Hasnain is always going to generate a bit of bounce off the surface. It proved to be one of the main weapons in his arsenal and he utilised it to great effect.
A shorter delivery to Imam-ul-Haq beat the left-hander for bounce as he charged down the track to have a swing, only to make contact with the top edge and sky one to Ahmed Shehzad.
Two genuine bouncers then earned him his other wickets. First, Amin took the bait and went for the pull shot but Tanvir was waiting for the catch in the deep. Then, another one zipped off the wicket for Pollard who went for a wild swing but only registered the slightest of edges for Sarfraz.
OUT! Quick delivery from Mohammad Hasnain and Umar Amin is removed after scoring 38 runs. Peshawar Zalmi are 90/4 in the 14th over now— Cricingif (@_cricingif) March 17, 2019
Ball-by-ball clips & scorecard 👉 https://t.co/6DBUDl8EUY #QGvPZ #PSL2019 #PSLFinal #KhelDeewanoKa #CricketForAll pic.twitter.com/iU7zsXuLKM
When you bowl with the kind of pace Hasnain does, accuracy is key. A loose delivery can fly off the bat and onto the fence in the blink of an eye. The Quetta seamer was relatively disciplined but a few wayward balls were punished.
Akmal and Pollard hit him for four when he pitched wide outside the off-stump. His final delivery was a similar one and caught the edge from Sammy, racing to the ropes with third man inside the circle.
VERDICT – 8/10
He picked up some huge wickets and was a tad unfortunate not to end with better figures. The youngster has scope for improvement but will only get better and a display like this in the final is evidence of a good temperament.
The curtain is set to come down on PSL 2019 in Karachi on Sunday night – and two of the best teams in the tournament are vying to take centre stage.
Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators finished first and second respectively in the league standings, with the likes of Kamran Akmal, Hasan Ali and Shane Watson writing headlines over the course of the last month.
Quetta have one distinct advantage – they know what it takes to beat Zalmi, three times in fact, over the season to this point. Will they clinch another victory, or will the fourth time be the charm for Peshawar?
Catch our ball by ball updates below, with the action starting at 19:00 GST: