RAWALPINDI: Hard-hitting opener Jason Roy’s marathon 145-run knock trumped Babar Azam’s maiden Pakistan Super League (PSL) century as Quetta Gladiators pulled off the highest run chase to down Peshawar Zalmi by eight wickets and stayed alive in the playoff contention.
The Gladiators had a mountain to climb to stay alive in the tournament as the former champions needed to pull off the highest-ever run chase and eventually they did so with 10 balls to spare at the back of a scintillating knock by Roy.
In pursuit of 241, the Gladiators’ openers Martin Guptill and Roy gave their side a flying start as they straight away charged on Zalmi bowlers; raising 40 runs in the third over.
Roy was the core aggressor of the Gladiators’ counterattack but his partner Guptill also began to catch up before Wahab Riaz outdid him with a short-pitch delivery. He scored a brisk eight-ball 21 including three boundaries and a six.
Following the early setback, Will Smeed joined his countrymate in the middle and the pair stitched a match-defining 109-run partnership for the second wicket and made sure to score at a rapid pace.
Roy once again led the charge of yet another partnership while Smeed anchored the run chase before falling victim to Mujeeb Ur Rehman in the 12th over. He scored 26 off 22, hitting a boundary and two sixes.
The Gladiators needed 91 off the last eight overs when Mohammad Hafeez came out to bat.
The experienced batter wasted no time in settling down and opened his account with a boundary on the first ball. The right-handed batter then brought all his experience in play to support Roy, who was turning it into a nightmare for Zalmi.
The pair then prevailed in steering their side to victory and pulled off the highest run chase with 10 balls to spare as Zalmi bowlers remained clueless.
Roy played a marathon knock and registered the highest individual score in PSL history with a 63-ball 145, beefed up whopping 20 boundaries and five gigantic sixes.
Hafeez, on the other hand, also played a crucial cameo; scoring brisk 41 runs in 18 balls with the help of six boundaries and two sixes.
For Zalmi, Wahab and Mujeeb could pick up a wicket as the rest went for plenty and wicketless.
Opting to bat first against Gladiators, who took the field without their regular captain Sarfaraz Ahmed in a must-win clash, Zalmi openers Saim Ayub and Babar gave their bowlers a ruthless thrashing as the pair recorded the second-highest PSL partnership for any wicket.
Saim remained the core aggressor of his record partnership with Babar – who was by no mean sparing any delivery in his zone – and smashed the Gladiators’ bowlers all over the park with clean hitting.
The pair looked in great control to tumble the long-standing record of the then Karachi Kings’ opening pair of Babar and Sharjeel Khan’s 176 against Islamabad United but Dwaine Pretorius provided a much-needed breakthrough for the Gladiators by dismissing Saim with a slower ball.
Saim fell 15 runs short of what could have been his maiden PSL century as he played a quickfire 85-run knock in just 34 deliveries, smashing six boundaries and five sixes.
Zalmi promoted Rovman Powell up the order to continue the flow of runs and the hard-hitting batter justified his move as he supported Babar brilliantly with his cameo.
Meanwhile, Babar continued his utter domination with his strokeplay and brought up his long-awaited maiden PSL century when he clobbered Naseem Shah’s length delivery through wide cover to reach the milestone.
The Zalmi skipper continued his centurion knock till the final over thanks to some sloppy efforts by the Gladiators’ fielders in the deep before Aimal Khan finally ran him out.
Babar top-scored for the Zalmi with an astounding knock of 115 runs in just 65 balls, laced up with 15 boundaries and three sixes.
Powell then made sure of a strong end to a dominating effort as he, with some help from Tom Kohler-Cadmore (seven off three), powered Zalmi to their highest total in PSL history.
The right-handed batter played a vital cameo of 35 runs off 18 deliveries, which featured three boundaries and two sixes.
For the hapless Gladiators’ bowling attack, only Pretorius could pick up a wicket.