<
>

Pietersen's blitz blindsides Lahore

play
Quetta Gladiators beat Lahore Qalandars by 5 wickets (3:59)

Kevin Pietersen had an unbeaten 88 off 42 balls to lead the Quetta Gladiators to a five wicket victory over the Lahore Qalanders in the Pakistan Super League in Sharjah (3:59)

Quetta Gladiators 202 for 5 (Pietersen 88*, Sarfraz 45, Tanvir 2-47) beat Lahore Qalandars 200 for 3 (Roy 51, Zaman 47, Hasan 2-28) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In a nutshell
Quetta Gladiators smashed 63 runs off their last 17 balls - led by Kevin Pietersen at his world-beating best - to stun Lahore Qalandars by five wickets in Sharjah. In a stupefying contest, without question the match of this season, history repeated itself as Sarfraz Ahmed's men hunted down a 200-plus target for the second consecutive year against Lahore.

The match looked to be over and done with by the time Lahore finished batting, with McCullum's men at their explosive best at both top and tail of the innings; their combined score in the first and last six overs was 150-0. The fireworks began with Jason Roy and Fakhar Zaman (McCullum opted not to open the innings). The England batsman brought up his fifty off a mere 24 balls. Wickets in the middle overs slowed Lahore down somewhat, but an unbroken 77-run partnership off the last 41 balls between Mohammad Rizwan and South African Cameron Delport - playing his first game this season - took Lahore to the first 200-run total this season.

Quetta started slowly, as both openers struggled to get their timing right in the face of intelligent Powerplay bowling by Sohail Tanvir, Sunil Narine and Mohammad Irfan Jr. By the time they fell, the asking rate was already nearing 12, and only a plucky 57-run stand between Rilee Rossouw and Pietersen kept Quetta in contention. Rossouw eventually holed out after an entertaining cameo, and a courageous partnership between Pietersen and captain Sarfraz seemed only like it would restore respectability to the result.

But Lahore had reckoned without Pietersen, whose two golden ducks appeared to have woken a sleeping giant. At his red-hot best, he smashed 39 runs off his last nine balls to haul Quetta to the most astounding of victories, not just in the PSL, but any T20 competition in recent memory.

Where the match was won
A key phase of the game that might get lost in the late carnage was the period just after Quetta lost their openers. Without the 57 off 30 deliveries that Rossouw and Pietersen added between the fifth and tenth overs, there would have been no opportunity for Quetta to finish the game off in style. Rossouw was integral in that period, not just with his runs, even though he contributed 33 of them to that partnership, but also his attitude. He swung from ball one, recognising that was the only route to victory for his side. It looked like he had been dismissed too early, with his side still needing 120. But the man at the other end was only just beginning to warm up.

The men that won it
This sort of knock is why Pietersen is so sought after by T20 franchises around the world. A major disappointment of this year's PSL had been that none of its three biggest stars - Brendon McCullum, Chris Gayle and Pietersen - had been able to play an innings their reputation demanded of them. But in a scarcely believable passage of play, Quetta whacked eight sixes in 13 balls, six of them coming from Pietesen's bat, as a target that had looked insurmountable suddenly appeared a stroll. Sarfraz played a brilliant, unselfish supporting role, scoring 45 off 25 balls. But the day belonged to Pietersen as the hapless Lahore side watched him wrench a game they thought they couldn't lose.

Bowlers' bloodbath
Lahore scored 75 in the Powerplay overs, the highest in PSL history. They doubled up on that by scoring just as many in the last six, and all of that without McCullum facing a ball.

However, that carnage was topped in a stunning onslaught by Quetta, who blitzed the Lahore bowling with 78 from their last 3.5 overs to win with more than an over to spare. The run chase means the top five totals across both seasons of the PSL have come in matches between these two sides.

Where they stand
The defeat might turn out to be a pivotal one for Lahore. Victory would have taken them to the top of the standings. It is Quetta who take that mantle now, with seven points from their five games. Lahore slip to fourth, with four points from five matches.