Quetta Gladiators will aim to maintain their solid record when they meet Multan Sultans as the Sharjah leg for Pakistan Super League 2019 starts on February 20.
The Sarfaraz Ahmed led Quetta – twice runners-up in three PSL editions – target the title with their never-say-die approach, under the astute coaching of former Pakistan captain Moin Khan.
Quetta thumped arch-rivals Peshawar in their first match of PSL, keeping them to 155 for four, courtesy some decent bowling led by left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who finished with figures of two for 25 in his four overs.
Umar Akmal, who has done well so far, then batted in a thumping style as he took Quetta over the line with an eye-catching 50-ball 75 not out, comprising of three sixes and seven boundaries.
Quetta’s next victim was Islamabad United who they beat more convincingly by seven wickets. Left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir, who rocked the two-time champions with a prized wicket of Luke Ronchi off the very first ball of the match, finished with four for 21. Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed made full use of a slightly slower wicket and chipped in with three for 15.
Though Islamabad managed to reach 157 with a major contribution from Wayne Parnell, it didn't prove much for Quetta as their run-chase banked on Shane Watson’s aggressive 55-ball 81. Umar Akmal chipped in with another commanding 28-ball 44 to seal the game for his side.
Multan Sultans have had mixed fortunes in the first two games they have played. They lost to Karachi Kings before staging a recovery with a win against Islamabad.
Multan fell short by just seven runs in their first encounter with Karachi. In pursuit of 184, skipper Shoaib Malik (52 off 28) and Laurie Evans (39-ball 49), but in the end a last over target of 16 proved beyond their reach.
In their next encounter with Islamabad, the Malik-led side showed their bowling prowess, restricting them to 125 for seven. Ali Shafiq impressed with his figures of 2 for 11 whereas Shahid Afridi and Junaid Khan shared two wickets each.
Shoaib Malik then anchored the chase with a solid 29-ball 31, but it was Shahid Afridi who sealed the victory with two sixes.
Multan will hope they win the toss and break Quetta’s dominance of fielding first and then chasing a target. But if Quetta captain Sarfaraz Ahmed is once again lucky with the toss, then it might be a tough ask for the opposition.