CricViz analyst Rufus Bullough looks at the clash between Peshawar Zalmi and the Quetta Gladiators.
Teenage tearaway Naseem Shah took the bull by the horns and gave Quetta the initiative in the second over of today’s match, dismissing Zazai and Livingstone with his trademark raw pace. His delivery to rip out Liam Livingstone’s off-stump was clocked at 145.01 kph.
These two sides have been polar opposites in terms of Powerplay wicket taking in this competition. Quetta have been the most potent of all sides with the ball in the first phase of the game, taking a wicket every 23.9 deliveries. Peshawar on the other hand have been ineffective in the first six, taking just five wickets from their eight matches – one every 57.6 balls at an average of 88.20. Comfortably the worst of any side so far in the competition.
The evergreen Shoaib Malik steadied the ship for Peshawar, and began to find top gear towards the midpoint of the innings. His fifty came up in the 13th over. He shepherded his side to a commanding position after coming in at 6/2 and 31% on WinViz, and at the time of him bringing up his half-century, Zalmi were firm favourites in the match at 110/3 (67% WInViz).
Malik scored all around the ground today, using his experience to exploit gaps and find the boundary. He faced just 11 deliveries of spin in his innings today, scoring just 14 runs at a strike rate of 127. He scored far quicker against the fast bowlers, scoring 43 off his remaining 29 balls at a strike rate of 148. Malik punished anything full of 6m from the pace bowlers, striking at 225.
The momentum generated by Malik was carried on by the impressive Hussain Talat who also reached a half-century, but the death overs belonged to Ben Cutting who plundered 27 from Sohail Tanvir’s final over. Never in an over of T20 cricket has Ben Cutting scored more runs, and never has Tanvir ever conceded as many. A game changing over which propelled Zalmi to a commanding total of 185/7.
Naseem Shah was the pick of the bowlers for Quetta taking 4/27 from his overs. To begin his spell, Naseem began his spell by bowling 10 pace on deliveries in a row. The next 13 balls were all delivered under 125kph before he closed out his spell with another searing 143kph delivery.
Liam Livingstone took the new ball for Zalmi, the sixth time he has done it in T20’s. This was a direct response to Jason Roy facing the first ball of the reply. Roy has struggled starting against spin in the past, but has been much improved in the past few years. Pre 2020 Roy averaged just 21.61 against spin in his first ten deliveries at the crease. Since 2020, this has climbed up massively to an average of 37.00. Smeed also has a poor record against spin, so this match up was an obvious one for Zalmi.
Both leg-spinners, Livingstone and Qadir proved too much for English imports Roy and Vince who departed in consecutive overs. Youngster Will Smeed and the experienced Sarfaraz Ahmed rebuilt for Quetta putting on a 53 run partnership before the senior member of the pair fell at 82/3.
Smeed carried on scoring well and reached his second fifty in just his fourth PSL match. Smeed then struck Wahab for the 300th six of the tournament in the 15th over, followed quickly by the 301st, to set up an enthralling final five overs, in which Quetta needed 63 from the final five.
Qadir then removed Ifthikar for his second wicket on the first ball of the 16th over and then Umar Akmal with the last. Qadir bowled with great variation today, with his googly through the gate to James Vince striking a chord with many leg-spinners around the world. His use and control of his googly and slider kept the Quetta batters guessing all through the innings and turned the tide for the Zalmi.
Eventually the task was beyond Quetta, but 20 year old Will Smeed batted brilliantly for his 99 (60) and staked his claim for a more permanent role in the side going forward after he was axed for the inconsistent James Vince. With scores of 99 and 97 in the tournament the young man will be disappointed to have not gotten over the line, but his talent is apparent for all to see.
Peshawar have now leapfrogged Quetta into the final playoff position and will hope to carry on the momentum in their next match against the dangerous Islamabad on Thursday.
Rufus Bullough is an analyst at CricViz