Zazai smashes 77 as Peshawar send defending champions Karachi packing - GulfToday

Zazai smashes 77 as Peshawar send defending champions Karachi packing


The UAE Team enter Tour de France comprising 21 stages led by 2020 champion Tadej Pogacar, with a mix of climbers and flat-terrain experts to support the Slovenian. File / Agence France-Presse

Peshawar Zalmi defeated Karachi Kings, the title defenders, by five wickets and one ball spare in eliminator 1 of the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 played at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Monday.

Two dropped catches of Sherfane Rutherford on the first and penultimate balls by Danish Aziza and Thisara Perera in Mohammad Ilyas’ last over saw Peshawar Zalmi get seven runs and cross the line.

Zalmi, the champions of the 2017 edition, will now play Islamabad United in eliminator two and the winner will take on Multan Sultans in the final on Thursday.

Player of the match Hazratullah Zazai’s whirlwind 77 set the tone for Zalmi’s successful chase of 176. The Afghanistan opener smashed 10 fours and spanked five sixes in 38 balls and stitched an opening partnership of 49 with Kamran Akmal (13 off 12) and then added 43 more runs with Imam-ul-Haq (11 off 17). In both alliances, he took the lead role and made sure that Kings’ bowlers remained on the defensive. When he became Perera’s second wicket, Zalmi had, by then, accumulated 103 runs in 11.3 overs.

Shoaib Malik provided support in the middle-order with his 30 off 25, before Sherfane Rutherford (17 not out off 10) sealed the win.

Earlier, Zalmi pacers Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan and Umaid Asif equally shared six wickets and the seventh wicket was taken by Mohammad Imran Kings were restricted to 175 for seven.

Babar Azam scored his seventh half-century of the edition after Wahab decided to bowl after calling the toss right. Kings’ wickets fell on regular intervals after Sharjeel Khan (26 off 20) was dismissed in the sixth over and Babar struggled to find the desired support from the other end.

Perera played a handy knock in the middle-order scoring 37 runs at more than two-runs-a-ball as his 18-ball stay at the wicket was studded with four fours and three sixes.

Skipper Wahab Riaz seemed highly impressed with the bowling unit for their tremendous effort as he lauded the players for keeping their calm in a crucial match.

“Look it’s never over till it’s over in cricket. As a captain, I was nervous but the boys played well, hats off to them and we must praise them for how they performed given the fact they didn’t play well in the last game so I think that was outstanding,” said Wahab Riaz in a post-match talk, according to report.

The Zalmi skipper also heaped praise on the young opening batsman Zazai, whose remarkable knock of 77 runs helped the team win the match. Zazai was magnificent with the willow as he played a quick-fire knock of 77 runs off just 38 deliveries. The 23-year-old successfully set a platform for the middle-order.

“I think (Zazai) is one of the best strikers of the ball and the way he played he always shows the intention. When you are chasing 170-odd runs, one of your openers has to play deep and score 60 to 70 runs. The way he started, I think he put Karachi under pressure from the beginning.

“The wicket was a bit difficult, it was keeping low and wasn’t coming nicely onto the bat but the start Zazai gave us helped us a lot. Others carried on like how Shoaib Malik played and how Khalid (Usman) played later,” Wahab added.

Multan had comfortably beaten the league-leaders Islamabad United in the opening match of the night on Monday to book their place in the season’s finale.

Brief scores

Eliminator 1 – Peshawar Zalmi beat Karachi Kings by five wickets

Karachi Kings 175-7, 20 overs (Babar Azam 53, Thisara Perera 37, Sharjeel Khan 26; Mohammad Irfan 2-21, Wahab Riaz 2-29, Umaid Asif 2-37)

Peshawar Zalmi 176-5, 19.5 overs (Hazratullah Zazai 77, Shoaib Malik 30; Thisara Perera 2-10)

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