Martin Guptill’s 86* powers Quetta Gladiators to edge Karachi Kings

RAWALPINDI: Experienced opener Martin Guptill played a magnificent 86-run knock under pressure and held his nerves calm to bolster Quetta Gladiators to edge Karachi Kings by four wickets in a low-scoring thriller.

The Gladiators completed the 165-run pursuit on the second-last delivery of the innings at the back of a scintillating 86-run unbeaten knock by Guptill.

The Gladiators were off to a poor start to the run chase as young opener Omair Bin Yousuf, failed to make an impact on debut and scored just eight off six deliveries.

All-rounder Mohammad Nawaz was promoted to bat at number three but failed to justify the move as his stay at the crease also remained brief. He could score 15 off 14 before falling victim to Musa Khan.

The Gladiators then lost three more wickets in quick succession as Iftikhar Ahmed (4), Najibullah Zadran (1) and Umar Akmal (9) perished cheaply; resulting in their side slip to 63/5 in the 10th over.

Following the slump, Guptill and Sarfaraz Ahmed began Gladiators’ recovery in the run chase before the former switched gears and started to dominate the Kings’ bowlers.

The pair brought the Gladiators back in control with their 95-run partnership before a mixup on the second delivery of the final over drew curtains on Sarfaraz’s gritty 25-ball 29.

Sarfaraz’s dismissal glimmered a ray of hope for the Kings but Dwaine Pretorius wasted no time and steered his side over the line with a crucial cameo of 10 runs in just three deliveries.

Guptill carried his bat all the way through and top-scored for the Gladiators with a sensational 56-ball 86, hitting nine boundaries and four sixes.

Tabraiz Shamsi led the bowling attack for the Kings with two wickets, while Yamin, James Fuller and Musa made one scalp each.

Put into bat first, the Kings managed to accumulate a decent total on the board at the back of an anchoring fifty by Rossington, followed by a late onslaught by Imad Wasim and Yamin.

Earlier, the Kings got off to an unwanted start as the side lost their hard-hitting opener, Matthew Wade, for a golden duck on the first delivery of the innings; courtesy of a beautiful outswinger by Naseem Shah.

Tayyab Tahir then looked to settle things down as he stitched a crucial 25-run partnership with Rossington but Aimal Khan struck in his first over to send him back to the pavilion.

With Kings losing two wickets in the first powerplay, Rossington stood up for his team and put on a gritty third-wicket partnership with Qasim Akram.

Rossington was the core aggressor of the 33-run stand while Qasim was holding his ground firm until Aimal dismissed him to draw third success for the Gladiators. Qasim could score eight off 10 deliveries.

The Kings then dealt a major blow in the 12th over when Mohammad Nawaz dismissed experienced Shoaib Malik, who scored 13 off 15.

Kings’ in-form skipper Imad then joined Rossington in the middle and scripted an astounding recovery for his side as the pair took the Gladiators’ bowlers to the cleaners.

Naveen-ul-Haq, however, provided Gladiators with a much-needed breakthrough in the 17th over when he removed Rossington with a short-pitch delivery.

The wicketkeeper batter top-scored for the Kings with a 45-ball 69, which featured 10 boundaries and a six.

The Kings then lost another wicket in the next over when Naseem castled James Fuller with a ruthless yorker and pushed the opposition into trouble.

However, an astonishing seventh-wicket partnership between Yamin and Imad, bolstered Kings to a respectable total of 164/6 as the pair dominated the Gladiators’ bowlers at the backend.

The duo raised brisk 33 runs in the last 15 balls of the innings with Yamin leading the charge with his magnificent unbeaten cameo of 23 in 11 deliveries, laced up with a boundary and two sixes.

Imad, on the other hand, remained unbeaten on a 20-ball 30, which included three boundaries and a six.

Naseem and Aimal led the bowling attack of the Gladiators with two wickets each, while Nawaz and Naveen picked up a wicket each.