Three-in-three for Quetta as Multan toppled in HBL PSL

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Quetta Gladiators rode on punishing half centuries from Shane Watson and Rilee Rossouw to make it three wins in three matches after their eight-wicket mauling of Multan Sultans as action shifted to Sharjah in the HBL PSL on Wednesday.

The win — achieved in the 18.3 overs after they overhauled a target of 161 – gives twice runners-up six points as they continued to top the six-team table.

Quetta, who won their first two matches in the first leg of the event held in Dubai — rode on a brilliant 40-ball 61 laced with 11 hits to the fence while Rossouw notched a 45-ball 67 with a six and ten boundaries as Quetta made the chase a mere cake-walk.

Shoaib Malik hit his second fifty in this HBL PSL edition — sixth in all HBL PSL — with a 37-ball 53 with two sixes and four boundaries while England’s batsman James Vince struck six boundaries in his 17-ball 28 to lift Multan Sultans to 160-8 after they were put into bat on a shiny Sharjah stadium pitch.

The defeat — Multan’s second in three games — put them on third behind Peshawar Zalmi ( one win in two games) in the table with just one win. Title holders Islamabad United are fourth while Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars are fifth and sixth respectively.

The chase masters Quetta, who won all their matches chasing,  were off to another solid start of 39 before Watson found an able ally in Rossouw as they punished Multan bowlers with authority, adding 56 for the second wicket.

Watson, who scored 81 not out in his team’s win over Islamabad United, reached his fifth fifty in all HBL PSL, with a straight boundary off Shahid Afridi as Quetta reached 89-1 after ten overs.

Watson, who now has 845 runs in 28 HBL PSL matches, second to Peshawar opener Kamran Akmal who has 978 in 36 matches, finally fell to Afridi, with 76 needed for victory.

Rossouw also reached his half century off 35 balls with a boundary and single off Andre Russell.  He and Umar Akmal (18-ball 17) crossed the finish line during their unbroken 66-run stand for the third wicket as Multan bowlers looked helpless and bite-less.

Multan welcomed the arrival of Dan Christian and Vince while Quetta left out misfiring Ahmed Shehzad to include Ahsan Ali in their eleven.

Vince was savage on Mohammad Nawaz, clobbering three boundaries in the fourth over of the innings before the left-arm spinner had the last laugh, dismissing him leg-before on review after a confident start of 34.

Shan Masood (16-ball 18 with three boundaries) and Laurie Evans (10) took the score to 54 but both fell within the space of ten runs. Masood became one of leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed’s victim off a googly. The Pakistan born Australian is the second best spinner in all Twenty20s – behind India’s Piyush Chawla — on strike rate off googlies.

It was Malik who steadied the innings, following his 52 and 31 not out in the previous games, with another responsible knock, lifting Multan with a fourth wicket stand of 73 with Christian.

Malik lifted Sohail Tanvir for a huge six towards square-leg to complete his fifty off just 35 deliveries. Christian, fresh from his man of the match display for champions Melbourne Renegades in the BBL final, struck a six in his 19-ball 18.

Master blaster Afridi was trapped leg-before for a first-ball duck – much to the disappointment of a near-capacity Sharjah stadium who wanted big sixes off him. Russell was one of three wickets to fall in the last over, smashing three boundaries in 12-ball 18.

Irfan Junior was the best Gladiator bowlers, taking 2-32 while young Ghulam Mudassar fetched 2-44.

Thursday will see Karachi Kings play former champions Peshawar Zalmi for teams’ third match in the HBL PSL.

Scores in brief:

Quetta Gladiators beat Multan Sultans by eight wickets

Multan Sultans 160-8 in 20 overs: (Shoaib Malik 53, J. Vince 28; Mohammad Irfan Junior 2-32, Ghulam Mudassar 2-44 )

Quetta Gladiators 161-2 in 18.3 overs (Rilee Rossouw 67, Shane Watson 61)

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