Shane Watson starred with bat and ball to help Quetta Gladiators seal a place in the final of the 2019 Pakistan Super League on Wednesday, 13 March.
Watson slammed a 43-ball 71 to power Quetta to 186/6 against Peshawar Zalmi, but an astonishing 83-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy gave Peshawar a realistic chance of toppling the target.
It was down to Watson again. The 37-year-old has abandoned bowling in recent times. He’d not bowled an over this tournament, and in fact, hasn’t bowled since the IPL last year. But with Fawad Ahmed withdrawing midway through the innings, after taking one in the face when Imam-ul-Haq drove at him, Watson had to step in.
Zalmi needed 21 runs in the final over, but with Pollard and Sammy in quite a mood, the momentum was with them.
Sammy took a single off the first ball. On the next ball, Pollard did what Pollard does, letting one fly over mid-wicket. The equation came down to 14 off four, but when Pollard attempted a repeat the next ball, he turned around to find his middle stump knocked back. Watson had his first.
Wahab Riaz, the new man, was on strike next. He swung and missed at his first ball, but in a hurry to get back on strike, Sammy attempted a bye and was run out. That was the game. Watson gave away just 10 runs, and Quetta celebrated a 10-run victory and a place in the final.
While his bowling left a lasting impression, Watson's batting was what really gave Quetta the advantage. He hammered five fours and six sixes, and also coaxed the best out of the young Ahsan Ali (46 off 32 balls) to make for a two-pronged attack.
Umar Akmal was the next highest scorer, with 22 off 15 balls, but Watson and Ali had done enough to set up a steep chase for Peshawar.
Quetta will now enjoy an extra rest day, even as Peshawar await the winner of Thursday’s Eliminator between Islamabad United and Karachi Kings for a second shot at the final.
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