As Gladiators Edge, Iftikhar Ahmed Dazzles Zalmi In A PSL Match Thriller
February 6, 2023 / By Zunair Tahir / Sport News
Quetta On Sunday, cricket returned to the Bugti Stadium for the first time in 27 years with an HBL Pakistan Super League exhibition game between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi. The game featured six sixes in an over, a 45-year-old Shahid Afridi batting like a teenager, and a match stoppage before an exciting conclusion.
Given the demand for the eagerly anticipated event, the stadium’s 20,000 seating capacity was insufficient. Those fans that arrived on time had to make it to the arena three hours before kickoff.
They saw a thrilling match between some of Pakistan’s greatest athletes, including current and former national team captains Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed, who were heading Zalmi and Gladiators, respectively.
Iftikhar Ahmed’s performance, which saw the hard-hitting batsman pound veteran Pakistani pacer Wahab Riaz for six sixes in the last over of the first innings to help the Gladiators reach a total of 184 after being put into the batting order by Zalmi, was the one that really brightened the mood at the venue.
To emulate the achievement accomplished by players like India’s Yuvraj Singh and South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs, the right-hander played some incredible strokes. He scooped a full toss behind his knees, pulled over the leg-side, then smashed over the off-side to complete 94 not out off just 50 balls.
In retaliation, Mohammad Haris and Babar of the Zalmi opened the innings and provided the side a quick start, scoring 60 runs in just five overs before Babar left.
That made it possible for Afridi to show up, who immediately blasted a boundary off his first delivery before watching Haris continue to demolish the Quetta bowling. After quickly adding 25 to the total, the seasoned all-rounder lost his wicket.
Zalmi continued to score runs at a steady clip, but they kept dropping wickets at regular intervals. In the last over, which was bowled by Pakistani speed phenom Naseem Shah, they needed eight runs to win.
In front of a supportive audience, the right-armer bowled precisely to allow the hosts to win by three runs by giving up only half of the needed runs.
Even though they claimed to have tickets that were legitimate, people who arrived after the game had begun were not permitted to get through the admission gates. Few of these angry supporters reacted by throwing stones and setting tyres on fire.
The game had to be stopped for 30 minutes as the players were sent back into the locker rooms when a few stones fell into the stadium where it was being played.
However, once the game was reset, there were no simple differences.
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