Quetta Gladiators 161 for 2 (Rossouw 67*, Watson 61) beat Multan Sultans 160 for 9 (Malik 53, Irfan 2-32) by eight wickets
How the game played out
Quetta have a formula, and as of now, the equations are working in perfect harmony. For the third time in three matches, they won the toss, and opted to chase. Peshawar had set Sarfaraz Ahmed's team 156, Islamabad 158, and Multan today 161. And just the way they cruised to win against their previous two opponents, Quetta put Multan to the sword thanks to a blistering start from Shane Watson, and fireworks from Rilee Rossouw at the end.
Multan had posted 160; they will regret not racking up a bigger total after Shoaib Malik's half-century had set his side a decent platform. Quetta weren't quite as clinical with the ball as they have been in their previous two games, but in Multan they were up against a side that doesn't possess the pure batting skill several others do. Ghulam Mudassar was the most sloppy, bowling two no-balls and conceding 44 in his allotted four, but the other four ensured they more than made up for it. Fawad Ahmed was the pick, conceding just 22, with an exquisite googly getting rid of Shan Masood.
But bar a quiet first two overs, Multan were never given a chance. From the moment Shane Watson hit Nauman Ali for four fours in arrow in the fourth over, Quetta had the game in their grasp. It remained so right through till the 19th over, in which Rilee Rossouw knocked off the winning runs in what ended up being a canter.
Multan were well placed at 137 for 3, with Shoaib Malik looking to cut loose having reached a half-century off 35 balls. He had just smashed Sohail Tanvir for six, and if he could stay on till the end, his side looked set to surpass 170. But when he holed out at cow corner, his departure also heralded the end of any momentum his side had. Only 23 were scored off the last 20 balls of the innings, with six wickets lost along the way
After Watson had spent the first 11 overs finding one novel way after another to slice through the Multan field, he skied one off Afridi. He was gone for 61 off 40, and Quetta still needed another 66 off 53. Rossouw had struggled till then with 18 off 19, and any comeback would have had to happen then. But ordinary bowling in the next three overs allowed the South African to break free, bringing the rate down to six an over
Star of the day
Rossouw has been a star for Quetta Gladiators ever since he joined in 2017, and has scored more runs than any other player who's participated in the league in the last three seasons. While Watson's explosiveness at the start is so habitual one may be forgiven for being blasé about it, Rossouw has finished off games when under real pressure. This was another to add to that Quetta canon as he made up for a slow start to carry his side home. With Watson there, he had the intelligence to play second fiddle to the Australian, but after his dismissal, he stepped up. He scored 48 off his last 26 deliveries to finish with 67 off 45, never really giving Multan a look-in.
The big miss
Multan may lose the services of Andre Russell if West Indies decide to call him up, but on the evidence of today's performance that international summoning may be a while away. At the back end of the innings, he managed 18 off 12. But he was well off the mark when handed the ball, barely able to get the requisite pace or accuracy to discomfit Quetta's quality batsman. Watson smashed him for three successive fours in his first over, the ball sitting up for a man who doesn't need any gifts right now. An hour later, his second over was little better as Umar Akmal and Rossouw tucked in. By then, he had conceded 29 off 12, more than neutralizing the 18 he himself managed off the same number of balls.
Where the teams stand
Quetta break clear at the top with three wins out of three. Multan, like Islamabad and Lahore, slip into the bottom half with one win from three.