SHARJAH: Sarfraz Ahmed was in a buoyant mood just minutes after Quetta Gladiators pulled off a stunning one-wicket win to reach the HBL Pakistan Super League final here at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Quetta captain couldn’t stop smiling and later said that the win almost left him speechless.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Sarfraz after his team stopped Peshawar from getting two runs off the last three balls.
It was a similar result for Quetta last year as well as they beat Peshawar by one run to enter the inaugural PSL finale but lost to a resurgent Islamabad United in the title clash.
This year, however, Sarfraz was confident that his team will go all the way.
“We won’t be settling for anything less than the title,” said Sarfraz, who is also Pakistan’s captain in T2OI and ODI formats.
Earlier, Peshawar Zalmi threw away a perfect opportunity to reach the PSL final when they lost three wickets off the last three balls to hand a dramatic one-run victory to Quetta.
Needing just two runs off the last three balls, Peshawar suffered a stunning collapse as they failed to get pass the finish line in a superb final over bowled by spinner Mohammad Nawaz.
Needing just seven off the final over, Peshawar managed five from the first three balls but Chris Jordan, Wahab Riaz and Hassan Ali all fell without adding any more to the team’s total.
At one point in time, it seemed Peshawar were on course of victory thanks to sparkling fifties from Mohammad Hafeez and Dawid Malan. A packed stadium cheered every run as Hafeez (77) and Malan (56) put on 139 for the fourth wicket after Zalmi had made a false start to a challenging victory target of 201.
Peshawar lost Kamran Akmal (1) and Marlon Samuels (1) by the end of the second over with their total just 3. But Hafeez stood up when it mattered most hitting six sixers and five fours in his 47-ball 77. He received great support from Malan, who scored 56 off 30 balls with eight fours and a six. Shahid Afridi smashed an entertaining 34 off just 13 balls with four towering sixes. It was his fall at a time when Peshawar just needed 8 off 8 balls which sparked Peshawar’s collapse.
Earlier, Ahmed Shehzad continued to press for his return to national duty with a spectacular 71 off just 38 balls which enabled Quetta to 200-7.
During what was his third fifty in last three PSL games following 59 against Islamabad United and 54 against Karachi Kings, Shehzad even overshadowed the big-hitting English star Kevin Pietersen as he played the lead role in a second wicket stand of 90 that came off only 42 balls.
Shehzad, 25, last played for Pakistan almost a year ago in the ICC World Twenty20 championship. Since then he has been overlooked for international duty.
However, his PSL exploits might force the selectors to change their mind.