PSL 2019: Sarfraz Ahmed survives to win thriller for Quetta Gladiators
Gladiators captain given out LBW to first ball he faced from Lahore Qalandars' Haris Rauf only to be reprieved via DRS
The coincidence is unlikely to be wasted on Pakistani cricket supporters. They had been waiting 33 years for a last-ball six to finish a match at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, then two come along at once.
A day after David Wiese evoked memories of Javed Miandad, Chetan Sharma, and arguably the greatest game in the history of Sharjah cricket, by hitting Dan Christian for six to win a PSL match for Lahore Qalandars against Multan Sultans, the big South African was on the receiving end of the exact same ending.
This time, Sarfraz Ahmed hoisted Wiese over the mid-wicket boundary to give Quetta Gladiators a tense, three-wicket win over the Qalandars. It was Quetta’s fourth successive win at the start of the competition, extending their lead at the top of the points table.
The fact the Pakistan captain was still at the wicket was controversial in itself. Remarkably, he had been given out twice on the first ball he faced – only to survive both dismissals.
Sarfraz was initially adjudged lbw to his opening delivery from Haris Rauf, the tearaway Lahore fast-bowler, only to be reprieved via the Decision Review System.
Once technology had shown the ball to be missing the leg-stump, the umpires then asked for a review to see if Sarfraz had been run out in the aftermath of the appeal.
Although the replay clearly showed he was well short of his ground when the wickets were broken, he again survived. The decision to call for the review itself had been erroneous, as the ball was deemed dead as soon as the original appeal was upheld.
It proved the pivotal moment of the game, as Quetta put together their pursuit of Lahore’s 143 for seven. Sarfraz anchored the innings, and required two off the final ball, bowled by the towering South African quick Wiese, to win it for his side.
Faced with a similar situation against Multan 24 hours earlier, Wiese himself had profited from a fearless swing of the bat.
“As a bowler, you feel under pressure,” Wiese had said after his last-ball heroics on Friday. “I know that you can go for a six [as bowler] so in that situation you feel confident.”
How prophetic. Having soaked up the pressure of the run-chase, Sarfraz also swung freely, and to great effect. The six took him to 52 not out, and the man of the match award.
Defeat added insult to injury for Lahore, for whom AB de Villiers was unable to field, as he was injured in the process of making 45 not out, the top score of the Qalandars innings.
De Villiers, who jarred his back attempting to make his ground after a quick run, had himself been filling in as captain for Lahore, who have already lost Mohammed Hafeez, the regular captain, from their squad due to a thumb injury.
Salman Butt, the controversial injury replacement for Hafeez in the Qalandars squad, again looked out of sorts with the bat, as he had on debut a day earlier, and was labored in the field, too.
With Fakhar Zaman employed as the on-field captain, Lahore’s bowlers put up a spirited defence, in particular the fiery Rauf, and the leg-spin duo of Yasir Shah and Sandeep Lamichhane.
“Sarfraz held his nerve, played a brilliant innings, and showed his faith in himself,” Lamichhane said. “Credit to him, he played really well.”
Updated: February 23, 2019 10:06 PM