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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 March 2019

PSL 2019: Shane Watson stars to lead Quetta Gladiators into the playoffs

Australian batsman hits his third half-century of the season in the eight-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi, and he insists no final decision has been made regarding his presence in Pakistan

Shane Watson was in fine form once again to lead Quetta Gladiators to victory over Peshawar Zalmi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Shane Watson was in fine form once again to lead Quetta Gladiators to victory over Peshawar Zalmi. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Shane Watson is confident Quetta Gladiators can win the HBL Pakistan Super for the first time – even if he is unavailable for the final stage of the competition himself.

Quetta secured a place in the playoff phase, as they went back to the top of the table with a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Watson led the way, with 91 not out in 55 balls, winning the man of the match award, and stretching ahead at the top of the tournament’s run-scoring charts in the process.

It was the Australian opener’s third half-century in the 2019 PSL. His form has fuelled Quetta’s run to the top of the standings, but he is likely to be conspicuous by his absence when the teams head to Karachi for the business stage of the competition.

Sarfraz Ahmed, Quetta’s captain, said at the start of the tournament that all his side’s overseas players were willing to travel to Pakistan – with Watson the one notable exception.

Quetta have been undermined in the past by the reticence of their foreign players to make the trip. Two seasons ago, they lost the final when they had to employ an entirely new batch of overseas players just for that one match, as those who had represented them in the rest of the tournament in the UAE opted out.

Sarfraz spoke of his frustration with the situation when his side exited at the knock-out stage a year later, having again faced similar problems.

Peshawar won that tournament in 2016, with all of their players making the trip to Lahore for the final against Quetta. After Monday’s defeat in Abu Dhabi, Wayne Madsen, one of Peshawar’s imports, confirmed they would again all be going to Karachi this week.

Watson, whose stand worth 129 with Ahmed Shahzad was the centrepiece of Quetta’s pursuit of 166 to beat Peshawar, suggested his decision to skip the trip is yet to be confirmed, but is confident the side could thrive in his absence anyway.

“This is something I’ve been talking to my family about since I started talking to Quetta about playing again,” Watson said.

“I am continuing to talk to my wife and my mum and dad. I know I would absolutely love to be able to come to Pakistan because of the support I have always had from Pakistan.

“I have always loved playing against them in international cricket, and I’ve always really enjoyed the support Pakistan people have given me in all parts of the world. We are going to continue to talk, and we will see.”

Watson pointed to the presence of players of the calibre of Dwayne Bravo as reason for Quetta supporters to be optimistic.

“We have an incredibly talented squad, and that is what the ownership does, is put a really strong squad together," Watson said.

“To be able to get someone like Dwayne Bravo at the back end of a tournament is incredible. That last over he bowled was a crucial moment in the game.

“In terms of the depth in our squad, I am not worried about that at all. Just because someone is playing there, doesn’t mean they are going to perform every time, either.

“You need as many match-winners throughout your squad as you possibly can. I’m not worried about that at all.”

Updated: March 4, 2019 08:54 PM

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