Rossouw, bowlers help Quetta Gladiators beat Islamabad in low-scoring fixture

Rossouw, bowlers help Quetta Gladiators beat Islamabad in low-scoring fixture
Naeem Niazi
LAHORE, Feb 22 (APP):The newly-appointed Quetta Gladiators skipper Rilee Rossouw played with caution and restraint on a difficult Gaddafi Stadium pitch to help his team overhaul a below-par target of 139 and beat Islamabad United by three wickets to record third consecutive win in the HBL PSL 9 here on Thursday.
With the third consecutive win, the Gladiators have strengthened their position as table-toppers with six points and are only behind the Multan Sultans on a lower run-rate.
Rossouw 34 (38) and Rutherford 28 (23) hit a valuable partnership of 62 runs for the fifth wicket after they got together with the team total at 54-4 in the eighth over of their innings. Rutherford played his natural game during his stay at the crease while Rossouw kept his calm and saw his team home when Mohammad Amir hit Rumman Raees for two runs in the nineteenth over to seal the victory. Rutherford was clean bowled off peach of a delivery from Naseem Shah by the end of the 16th over but it was too late now as the Gladiators had inched closer to victory with 23 needed off 24 balls.
Among the top four, Saud Shakeel 2 (6), Khawaja Nafay 9 (9) and Sarfraz Ahmed 1 (6) fell cheaply while it was only Jason Roy who played with purpose and scored 37 runs off 18 balls including six boundaries and one 6 before he fell to an inside edge off Hunain Shah.
While Akeal Hosein got himself run-out while trying to fetch an improbable third run and Mohammad Wasim Jr. threw his wicket through an agricultural heave against Shadab Khan, the Islamabad United and Rossouw looked in some bother but experienced Mohammad Amir ensured that he did not play another loose shot.
Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah grabbed two wickets each for the United while Rumman Raees and Hunain Shah picked one scalp each. Agha Slaman bowled a useful spell of four overs for 28 runs and had claimed the wicket of Rutherford – only to be reversed through a DRS.
Earlier, in yet another low-scoring contest between the Quetta Gladiators and the Islamabad United, the Islamabad United found it hard to score big runs at the Gaddafi Stadium pitch and could only score 138-9 with five wickets shared between the two spinners Akeal Hosein and Abrar Ahmed. The low-scoring fixture may be attributed to the poor batting or the pitch behavior which changed after the first half of the innings. The United had scored 69 runs by the eighth over of the innings but lost the advantage as the wickets fell with regular intervals.
Five batsmen out of the nine had promising starts but they could not turn them into big innings. Agha Salman 33 (23) was the highest scorer for the Islamabad United and looked to score big like the previous two innings but he perished against Abrar Ahmed. Alex Hales scored a quickfire 21 off 9 balls but he took too many chances to last against the guile of Akeal Hosein. Colin Munro made a hard earned 20 off 22 balls but his vigil also came to an end when he tried to hit Abrar Ahmed out of the leg-side boundary and was caught brilliantly by Rutherford who almost had a collision with Saud Shakeel.
Azam Khan, who came out to bat in the ninth over, had a good chance to prove his worth and rescue the team from a disaster but he fell cheaply for 1 (4). Jordan Cox scored 19 (21) while all-rounder Faheem Ashraf hit 20 (14) in an effort to raise the team total to some respectability.
Abrar Ahmed and Mohammad Wasim were the most frugal and successful bowlers for the Gladiators who claim to be the best bowling attack of the HBL PSL 9. Abrar conceded mere 18 runs for three wickets while Wasim claimed as many scalps for 20 runs. Akeal Hosein picked two wickets for 32 runs while Mohammad Hasnain managed one wicket for 38 runs.
Rilee Rossouw was rewarded with Player of the Match award for his successful vigil to victory and two catches in the field as captain.
No match will be played at Gaddafi Stadium on Friday (tomorrow) while Multan Cricket stadium will host Peshawar Zalmi and Multan Sultan during an evening fixture.
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