KARACHI: A vintage Kamran Akmal century made light work of a modest target set by Quetta Gladiators, chasing down 149 with nine balls to spare. Jason Roy paced the Gladiators’ innings with a 40-ball half-century, but struggled to get into third gear in the waning overs in the face of some excellent death bowling led by Wahab Riaz.
Roy’s half-century looked pedestrian by the time Kamran got going in the Zalmi Powerplay. Whereas Roy finally reached his fifty in the 15th over with a two off Darren Sammy, Kamran needed just 20 balls, reaching the milestone two deliveries into the fifth over of the Powerplay when he drove Mohammad Hasnain through mid-on for his eighth four. That matched the number of dot balls he had faced while he’d also driven two sixes over wide long-off and swept another over square leg.
By the end of the Powerplay, the required rate was already under a run a ball. Kamran adjusted in kind, waltzing his way to three figures off a subsequent 34 deliveries as he brought up the landmark top-edging a sweep to deep fine leg. He fell next ball middling another sweep to Roy at deep midwicket in the 17th over to gift Fawad Ahmed his second wicket in the space of three balls, but by that stage the target was down to single digits. The scorecard might show that Zalmi only reached the target halfway through the 19th over, but that flattered Gladiators’ limp effort in the field in what was a very one-sided contest.
Jonty Rhodes remarked on TV commentary that Tom Banton played the best shot of the opening over of the chase, taking a single first ball to get off strike so that Kamran could run wild on Mohammad Nawaz. Kamran charged the left-arm spinner immediately to clear him over mid-off for six, then followed with a sweep over the man at deep square leg. After a dot, he drove him again over mid-off for a one-bounce four before ending the first over pulling a half-tracker over midwicket. Gladiators were left shellshocked and never recovered.
STAR OF THE DAY:
It was Kamran’s day virtually from the moment he walked out. He slowed down after crossing fifty mainly because he could afford to. His confidence and aggression sucked the life out of the Gladiators, who were always going to struggle to defend when taking into consideration that a target of 203 on the same ground a day earlier went down to the penultimate ball. He ended with 13 fours and four sixes, having done the bulk of the dirty work in the first six overs.
THE BIG MISS:
Nawaz had a chance to exact revenge on Kamran after being victimised in that 21-run first over. After Kamran had pulled Sohail Khan over square leg midway through the second over for another four, the batsman punched Sohail to extra cover off his next ball, where Nawaz made a brilliant diving stop as Kamran took off impetuously for a single. Banton stayed at the non-striker’s end with Kamran stuck halfway down the pitch on 24.
But Nawaz rushed a throw from his knees rather than take an extra moment to gather himself. The throw to the striker’s end bounced over the stumps with Kamran six yards short. Nawaz also had another chance to make amends in the 14th when Kamran cut Sohail to him at backward point on 94, but he spilled a knee-height chance.
WHERE THE TEAMS STAND:
Gladiators stay on two points after having won their opener while Zalmi bounced back after being on the wrong end of their first match of the season. Both teams are behind Multan Sultans and Karachi Kings on net run rate despite equal points.