Pakistan Super League 2019: Quetta Gladiators’ road to finalhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/pakistan-super-league-2019-quetta-gladiators-road-to-final-5629537/

Pakistan Super League 2019: Quetta Gladiators’ road to final

In a repeat of the 2017 Pakistan Super League final, Quetta Gladiators will lock horns with Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL 2019 summit clash on Sunday.

Pakistan Super League
Quetta Gladiators will face Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League final. (Source: PSL/Twitter)

In a repeat of 2017 Pakistan Super League final, Quetta Gladiators will lock horns with Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL 2019 summit clash on Sunday. For the third time in four years, Gladiators have booked a spot in the final and will be eager to do better than the previous two times.

Gladiators were stunned in the final by Peshawar Zalmi two years ago, as they were bundled out for 90 while chasing 149 in the summit clash. This time around, the Sarfraz Ahmed-led side would look to take the revenge against Peshawar and win their maiden title.

Here is a look at Quetta Gladiators road to the final:

Strong Start

Quetta Gladiators got off to a strong start in the 2019 season of Pakistan Super League. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, who was under the radar after the controversy over racist remarks to South Africa allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo during the ODI series against the Proteas, had a point to prove and he did so effectively. In the first game, Gladiators defeated Zalmi by 6 wickets in a final-over thriller courtesy a 50-ball 75 by Umar Akmal.

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In their next game, Gladiators stunned the defending champions Islamabad United by 7 wickets to register their second win on the trot. Multan Sultans were the third opponents for Quetta. Rilee Rossouw hammered an unbeaten 67 runs in 45 balls in the 161-run chase to take his side to a comfortable 8-wicket win. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed scored an unbeaten 52 in 36 balls to take his side to a thrilling final ball win over Lahore Qalandars as Gladiators maintained their perfect record in their 4th game.

Stumble

After a perfect start, things slowed down for Gladiators after they were handed their first defeat by Karachi Kings. Coming on to bat first, Rossouw and Akmal fired their side to 186/5 in 20 overs with a late cameo from Anwar Ali who hammered 4 sixes in 6 balls. But a century from Colin Ingram hammered an unbeaten 59-ball 127 in reply as Kings chased down the target in 18.2 overs.

In the next game, Gladiators were stunned by Lahore Qalandars, who bowled them out for 106 and then comfortably chased down the target by 8 wickets. It was Gladiators’ second defeat in two games.

The race for the top

With Peshawar Zalmi winning three games on the trot, a race to the top position in the round robin stage began between Gladiators and Peshawar. A final over victory against Multan Sultans by 6 wickets paved the way for Gladiators to keep on Zalmi’s toes. In their next game, Gladiators picked up a thumping 8-wicket win over Peshawar to go higher in the table. Then the side extended their winning streak to three as they defeated Islamabad United by 43 runs in their next game. Ahmed Shehzad fired a 46-ball 73 in the match and was awarded the man of the match award.

Needing a win to confirm the top spot in the table, Gladiators bowed down to Karachi Kings in their final round-robin contest, losing in a thriller by 1 run. Peshawar’s win over Karachi, saw the two teams remaining tied with 14 points, with the latter taking the first spot via Net Run Rate.

Playoffs

Quetta Gladiators had already won two contests against Peshawar Zalmi in the tournament and needed a third to qualify for the final. The Sarfraz Ahmed-led side did not drop the ball and went on to smash 186/6 in 20 overs, courtesy a 43-ball 71 by opening batsman Shane Watson. In reply, Peshawar reached 176/7 in 20 overs, despite Dwayne Bravo conceding 52 runs without a wicket in his 4 overs. The 10-run win saw Gladiators entering the PSL final for the third time.