Quetta Gladiators 158 for 4 (Sarfraz 45*, Watson 37) beat Peshawar Zalmi 157 for 5 (Smith 49, Watson 2-26) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In a nutshell
The previous few games in the PSL almost made T20 cricket lose its shape. There were one-sided duds, exceptionally low-scoring matches and domino collapses, but this was (if indeed we can begin to call it that) good old-fashioned T20 cricket. Quetta Gladiators chased down Peshawar Zalmi's 157 with a cold-hearted, ruthless performance, powered to the finish by a world-class 74-run partnership between their captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Rilee Rossouw.
Quetta tried to stay on top of the asking rate right from the outset, aided by Shane Watson, whose outstanding form has seen him become the top scorer in the tournament. A 25-ball 37 from him sent Quetta on their way, with a cameo from Kevin Pietersen allowing them to keep the required rate in check. However, Peshawar were clawing their way back in with regular wickets, and when Quetta were reduced to 84 for 4, the importance of the Rossouw-Sarfraz partnership appeared impossible to overstate. Both players rose to the occasion with a professional, dispassionate class, managing to keep the runs ticking in the face of magnificent death bowling by Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali. They took it to the final over, but they never looked like blowing it. The result, however, meant that Lahore Qalandars - like the last two seasons - were out of playoff contention.
Peshawar were guilty of a slow start, but Dwayne Smith compensated with a lusty, powerful innings up top, thwacking five sixes in a 33-ball 49. But soft dismissals were the scourge of their innings, and the next four batsmen fell to straight-forward deliveries spooned straight into the air in the inner circle, as Peshawar lost momentum regularly. They only managed to get to above 150 thanks to a brilliant rearguard from Captain Fantastic Daren Sammy - still only partially fit, whose 19-ball 36 powered them to 157. It was respectable, but not quite enough.
Where the match was won
Mohammad Nawaz has made a bit of a habit of taking early wickets, and the beauty that bowled Kamran Akmal for a golden duck put Peshawar on the back foot straightaway. For the first four and a half overs, they scored at under 5, meaning much of the Powerplay was squandered without runs on the board. Though Smith and Sammy did well to catch up, that early stumble meant a potential total of 180 was confined to merely 157. In a tight, last-over run chase, those extra runs were made to count.
The men that won it
T20 cricket can have a bit of a reputation as a "hit and hope" sort of format, but the chanceless nature of the Rossouw-Sarfraz partnership was spectacular. When they came together, Peshawar had the edge, but the pair seemed to trust each other, and found reassurance and confidence batting together. A classy inside out cover drive off the left-arm spinner from Sarfraz sent them on their way, and from thereon all they did was nail the basics. They got a boundary an over, kept the strike ticking along, and never gave Darren Sammy any reason to be hopeful, snuffing the fire out of Peshawar. We may not see a better partnership under pressure all season.
Fast bowlers in unison
Umaid Asif, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali are all different fast bowlers in their own way, but they all appeared to have the same effect on Quetta. At least, that's how it appears if all you did was take a cursory look at the scorecard. Each of them took one wicket each; Wahab and Umaid's figures were indeed identical: 4-0-26-1. Hasan Ali's numbers read 4-0-25-1. It isn't often three fast bowlers from one side perform to that level and end up on the losing side, but that only illustrated the fine margins in this game, and the nervy contest it ended up becoming.
Where they stand
Quetta go to the top of the table with 10 points, while Peshawar, with three losses and five wins, are dangerously close to elimination, sitting in fifth place. The result also officially eliminates Lahore Qalandars, who cannot now mathematically finish in the top four.