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Nafay-inspired Gladiators stun holders Qalandars in high-scoring encounter

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LAHORE: Khawaja Nafay scored an unbeaten half-century to spearhead Quetta Gladiators to a five-wicket victory over defending champions Lahore Qalandars in the fourth match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9 here on Monday.

Set to chase 188, the Gladiators amassed the target on the first delivery of the final over when their star batter Nafay struck Zaman Khan for a boundary.

Earlier, the in-form opening pair of Saud Shakeel and Jason Roy once again gave the Gladiators a flying start, adding 69 runs for the first wicket in less than seven overs.

But both the openers fell in the span of just three deliveries, allowing the hosts to force a comeback.

Saud struck seven boundaries and a six on his way to a 23-ball 40 while Roy scored 24 off 19 deliveries.

Coming out to bat at No.3, Khawaja Nafay, knitted crucial stands with skipper Rilee Rossouw (18), Sarfaraz Ahmed (11) and Sherfane Rutherford (14), making sure that the Gladiators do not lose momentum by hitting boundaries at regular intervals.

But with Rutherford’s dismissal in the 17th over, the home side attempted to force a late comeback, bowling tight lengths and making it tough for the batters to score freely.

Nafay, however, displayed nerves of steel and batted sensibly to guide the 2019 champions over the line in the final over after a sensational partnership with Akeal Hosein, who scored an unbeaten run-a-ball nine.

Khawaja Nafay top-scored for the Gladiators with his maiden PSL half-century, scoring 60 not out off just 31 deliveries, hitting four boundaries and three sixes.

For the Qalandars, Shaheen, Haris Rauf, Sikandar Raza, Salman Fayyaz and Zaman Khan struck out a batter apiece.

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Put into bat first, the Qalandars managed to register a formidable total of 187/7 on the board despite a dismal start.

The hosts suffered an early blow to their batting charge when Akeal Hosein dismissed Fakhar Zaman (6) on the first delivery of the third over with just nine runs on the board.

Rassie van der Dussen then joined forces with Farhan and launched recovery.

The duo put together an anchoring 53 runs for the second wicket before Abrar Ahmed brought an end to van der Dussen’s scratchy 15-run knock to end by cleaning him in the ninth over.

Farhan then knitted a one-sided partnership with Abdullah Shafique and brought up his second-consecutive PSL 9 half-century in the process.

He smashed six boundaries and three sixes on his way to a 43-ball 62 and finally walked back in the 13th over after falling victim to Mohammad Hasnain.

The Qalandars sustained another blow to their innings, just two balls later, when Hosein returned to provide another breakthrough to the Gladiators by getting Shafique (11) caught behind.

But Jahandad Khan took the reigns of Qalandars’ batting expedition and bolstered their total with a sensational knock which featured three boundaries and four sixes, three out of which came against Abrar in the 16th over.

He carried his bat all the way through with an unbeaten 45 off just 17 deliveries.

Besides him, Sikandar Raza (18) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (12) also made notable contributions at the death with brisk cameos.

Hasnain and Hosein bagged two wickets each for the Gladiators while Abrar, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Wasim Jr made one scalp each.

READ: Carlos Brathwaite, Sikandar Raza join Lahore Qalandars for PSL 9

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