An incredible 88 run unbeaten innings by Kevin Pietersen helped Quetta Gladiators pull off a stunning win over Lahore Qalandars at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Set to chase 201 on a placid batting friendly pitch despite the wet conditions in the region prior to the match the Gladiators owed their chase to a whirlwind innings by their most seasoned campaigner Pietersen who anchored one end before unleashing a brutal assault in the dying moments of the game as the Gladiators scored their last 63 runs off only 17 balls.
Pietersen and captain Sarfraz Ahmed (45) tore into Sunil Narine and rookie pacer Mohammad Irfan Junior in the 17th and 18th over of the innings before Sohail Tanvir conceded 15 runs from the first five balls of the 19th over despite dismissing Sarfraz to trigger wild celebrations in the Gladiators camp.
Narine was hit for three sixes in his over while Irfan was hit for four maximums in his over by Pietersen. The Gladiators number three made up for his poor run in the lead-up to the game with a memorable performance that also earned him the man-of-the-match award.
Qalandars had also failed a 200 plus score in their game against the Gladiators in the 2016 season at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Batting first, the Qalandars produced a batting master class of their own as their frontline batsmen went after the Gladiators attack from the outset. Opener Jason Roy set the tone of his team’s innings with a 27 ball 51 run innings that included three sixes and six fours. He was dismissed after a 77 run opening stand with Fakhar Zaman in a mere 6.4 overs.
Fakhar scored 47 off 31 balls and took over the attack after Roy was sent back, Umar Akmal (17) perished early while Fakhar was dismissed courtesy a fine diving catch by Ahmed Shehzad.
Mohammad Rizwan and Cameron Delport made full use of the platform that was provided by the earlier batsmen with a scintillating 77 run unbroken stand for the fourth wicket to ensure that the Qalandars post the first 200 run score of the current edition.
Rizwan’s innings of 46 included four sixes and a solitary four while Delport scored 35 off 21 balls, his innings was studded with three sixes and one four.
Gladiators’ bowlers had a forgettable afternoon with Mohammad Nawaz conceding 44 in his three overs while Anwar Ali went for 37 off his three overs.