Watson’s unbeaten 91 seals Quetta’s PSL play-off spot



Shane Watson raises his bat after getting his fifty © Pakistan Super League

Quetta Gladiators 166 for 2 (Watson 91*, Shehzad 50) beat Peshawar Zalmi 165 for 4 (K Akmal 72, Pollard 44*) by eight wickets

How the game played out

Shane Watson‘s sizzling unbeaten 91 moved him to the top of the PSL 2019 run charts and helped Quetta Gladiators become the first team to seal a play-off spot this season. Watson added 129 for the second wicket with Ahmed Shehzad, to ensure that chasing the target of 166, set by Peshawar Zalmi, turned out to be a cinch.

Zalmi paid for a conservative approach through the early and middle parts of their innings after being sent in to bat. Opening Andre Fletcher and Imam-Ul-Haq took up just over a third of the available deliveries in the innings, scoring at an identical strike-rate of under a-run-a-ball, providing weak support for Kamran Akmal during his 72 off 50 balls.

It wasn’t until Kieron Pollard arrived with one ball to go in the 14th over that Zalmi went on the attack. Pollard struck two fours and a six off Dwayne Bravo in the 18th, then started the 19th with a trio of fours off Sohail Tanvir, but Bravo’s magnificent 20th over in which he conceded just three runs wiped out all of Zalmi’s momentum. Watson then made the most of a few chances early in the chase to bully Zalmi’s bowlers over the course of 90 minutes.

Turning points

  • Zalmi were 162 for 3 heading into the final over of the first innings with Pollard humming on 43 off 19 balls. But he only faced two balls as Bravo produced a masterclass in death bowling, his yorkers and slower balls undoing Darren Sammy and costing just three singles.
  • Pollard had a chance to run Watson out on 19 in the fourth over of the chase when Shehzad drove Sameen Gul to mid-on. His diving stop denied four initially, but after getting to his feet, with the stumps at the non-strikers’ end about 20 yards away, he missed his target.
  • Not only did PSL leading wicket-taker Hasan Ali go wicketless but he spilled both Watson and Shehzad. Watson’s chance was a difficult one, on 26 in the fifth over driving at mid-on where Hasan got fingertips to it as the ball burst through for four. Liam Dawson’s first ball of the day in the eighth over offered an easier chance, with Shehzad on 22, but Hasan couldn’t get hold of the top-edged sweep.

Star of the day

Watson was imperious through much of his knock but two shots in particular stood out. On the last ball of the seventh over, Umaid Asif attempted a slower ball that landed a touch short outside off stump as Watson slapped him over cover for six. A more mind-boggling maximum came off Wahab Riaz two balls into the 18th when he carved out a wide yorker over the rope at backward point.

The big miss

There were a handful of them by Zalmi in the field, but Pollard’s shy at the stumps with Watson vulnerable in the fourth over began a snowball effect of poor fielding.

Where the teams stand

Gladiators now sit alone in first place on 12 points. Zalmi are two points behind them alone in second place, two ahead of Islamabad United.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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