Peshawar Zalmi 170 for 6 (Malik 54, Hasnain 4-34) beat Quetta Gladiators 140 for 7 (Roy 45, Riaz 3-21)
The ageless Shoaib Malik shows no signs of slowing down, notching his 60th T20 half-century and doing so at a pace of two runs per ball to set the tone for a resounding 30-run win for Peshawar Zalmi over Quetta Gladiators in Darren Sammy's first match in charge as head coach of Zalmi after stepping down as captain.
In a match that was reduced to 15 overs following a 90-minute delay, Zalmi were sent in by Sarfaraz Ahmed at the toss, but Gladiators bowling unit could not back up their captain's decision. They were also affected by an injury to Naseem Shah, who conceded just six runs across the first and third overs but walked off the field with a leg injury after the fourth over and could not complete his quota. While Shah went for three per over, nobody else in the Gladiators lineup went for less than 11 per over.
Kamran Akmal started to rev up the Zalmi innings in the fifth over, hammering Mohammad Hasnain for back-to-back sixes over backward square and long-on. Though he fell attempting a third over midwicket to give Hasnain the first of his four expensive scalps, Malik and Haider Ali were relentless in attacking during their 54-run third-wicket stand across the next 30 balls. Despite being six wickets down with nine balls left, Zalmi managed to add a further 27 runs thanks to some lusty hitting from Lewis Gregory as Tymal Mills could not contain with his changes of pace.
Jason Roy and Shane Watson got the Gladiators off to a fiery start in their reply, but the Gladiators lost momentum after Watson fell driving Hasan Ali to extra cover in the fifth to end a 45-run opening stand. New Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz was on a hat-trick in the 11th over after dismissing Ahmed Shehzad and Ben Cutting, the latter wicket effectively snuffing out the Gladiators last genuine threat after he had clattered two sixes in his first six balls at the crease. Riaz struck once more in the 13th to bowl Sarfaraz Ahmed, capping off his haul to help cement his first win since taking over the captaincy duties from Sammy.
Watson's dismissal itself wasn't necessarily the turning point, but more so Shehzad's lack of aggression after replacing him at the crease at No. 3. Shehzad scored four runs off his first eight deliveries, putting pressure on Roy to take more risks. Roy fell attempting a slog sweep to Yasir Shah's legspin to end the eighth for 45. Shehzad's lack of efficiency allowed pressure to mount further before Riaz struck to remove him for 10 off 17 balls, skying a heave over cover before Cutting fell next ball slamming Riaz flat to deep midwicket. Shehzad's go slow meant Gladiators needed 72 off the last 26 balls, far too steep a rate for them to come back.
Star of the day
Malik was his typical efficient self. He scored off his first eight deliveries and only had a total of five dot balls before his wicket became the sixth. Otherwise, he rarely let the bowlers breathe. Just when it looked like a door might be cracked open for the Gladiators to reel back the Zalmi run rate following the wicket of Ali in the 10th, Malik made sure momentum stayed with Zalmi by driving Sohail Khan over mid-off, then pulling him through midwicket for another four. He was dropped next ball skying a drive to Nawaz at cover sweeper on 36, but continued to press on until crossing his fifty off 25 balls.
The big miss
Roughly five minutes was lost when the third umpire was keeping everyone on the edge of their seats waiting to find out whether or not Riaz had any part of his foot behind the line on the delivery he bowled to get Cutting out. While it was very tight, leagues might want to consider putting a time limit on the amount of time it takes to come to a decision on reviews in order to speed up play because the umpire could have taken all day and still not come to a conclusive decision.
Where the teams stand
Zalmi move up into a tie for second place with Islamabad United on seven points, though United have a better net run rate. Gladiators are tied for fourth place with Karachi Kings on six points, though Gladiators are technically fifth due to an inferior net run rate.