Peshawar Zalmi recorded a 24-rum victory to move two points clear of the gladiators in the HBL Pakistan Super League standings. This was done as Smeed blackmailed to take the game away from them. Smeed, after his return, didn’t make a significant impact as his heroic 99 was past away from Gladiators. Smeed’s return didn’t make a significant impact as a replacement with Ben Duckett.
Despite the wickets tumbling around him, it seemed as if Smeed, who had replaced Ben Duckett, would guide the Gladiators singlehandedly towards their victory. The victory was by Salman Irshad’s low full toss onto his stumps with 32 more to get off 13 deliveries. It was curtains Sarfraz Ahmad men as they finished at 161-8 in their pursuit of 186.
Leg spinner Usman Qadir got three wickets for Zalmi for whom Shoaib Malik and Hassan Talat drafted valuable half-centuries.
It, however, was a quick fire 36 by Ben Cutting which proved invaluable for them as they finished on 185.
Needing to go from the off, the Gladiators were tottering at 2-29 after Jason Roy chased a wide leg-break from Liam Livingstone but could only get a toe end of his bat five a simple catch to Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz before Usaman’s googly in did James Vince’s stumps. Smeed tried t repair the damage with captain Sarfraz in the stand but Hussain had the Gladiators captain caught at deep midwicket by Livingstone.
It was all Smeed after that as no other Gladiators batters could get going. Usman had spelled the end for them when he had Iftikhar Ahmad caught behind before getting Umar Akmal stumped for 1.
But Smeed, who had hit 97 in Gladiators season-opening win against Zalmi and plated the first three, matches of their campaign. It was still standing tall and he continued to smash Zalmi bowlers being especially secure on Wahab.
Gladiators required 56 off the last three overs and Smeed had set it up for a final flourish having hit Salman for two boundaries in the 18th over, only to be undone on the last ball of that over.
Earlier, Naseem Shah rocked Zalmi in the second over trapping Hazratullah Zazai on the first delivery before knocking back Livingstone’s middle stump.
But Muhammad Haris and Malik stitched up a 52-run partnership before Ghulam Mudassar accounted for the former, taking a catch back off his bowling on the second attempt while running backward.
That marked the start of an 83-run partnership between Malik and Hussain which in the end gave cutting the platform to change gears.
Malik got eight four in his 41-ball knock and departed in an attempt to accelerate the scoring when he mistimed a slower delivery from Khurram Shahzad to Umar.
Sherfane Rutherford went for a duck, with the addition of just one run to the scoreboard but that did not stop cutting from cutting loose.
In his 14-ball 36, Cutting made 33 off nine Sohail Tanvir deliveries, including four sixes in the penultimate over, as an interesting mini-battle between the two which saw then acquire up in the heat of the moment.
Having a hit a four of the final delivery of the 17th over by Tanvir, Cutting welcomed him with three consecutive sixes at the start of the 19th, the first down the ground, the second over deep mid-wicket, and the third over extra cover.
There was a brief respite for Tanvir when Cutting got just two off the fourth delivery but he then smoked the veteran pacer for another six over deep mid-wicket on the fifth.
Tanvir though would complete Cutting’s dismissal, taking a catch off the first delivery of the final over bowled by Naseem.
Hussain got six fours and a six in his innings and tilted the game in his side’s favor with the ball when he bagged Sarfraz, only for Smeed to bring Gladiators close.
The impressive Naseem gave away just three runs in that over and also ended up getting his fourth wicket of the innings when Husain was caught by Khurram.