Iftikhar Ahmed played an astounding knock unbeaten of 94 from 50 balls to help Quetta Gladiators seal a close win over Peshawar Zalmi by three runs in the Pakistan Super League exhibition match, here on Sunday.
Iftikhar smoked six sixes off the final over by Wahab Riaz and lived up to the expectations of the cricket-devoid people of Quetta, who showed up in numbers to witness the first competitive cricket game at Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Stadium after 27 years.
Set to chase a mammoth target of 185, Peshawar Zalmi fell short of the target despite a promising start by young Mohammad Haris and skipper Babar Azam.
Haris made 53 from 35 balls while Peshawar and Pakistan captain Babar scored 23 from 18 balls. Star all-rounder Shahid Afridi played a short cameo of 17-ball 25 amid roars and loud cheers by the enthusiastic Quetta crowd.
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For Quetta, Mohammad Hasnain led the bowling charge as he picked up three wickets for 30 runs in his four overs, while player of the match Iftikhar also had two wickets to his credit besides his batting exploits.
Earlier, Veteran pacer Wahab provided Zalmi with early breakthroughs, dismissing Ahsan Ali and Umar Akmal in the second over after skipper Babar elected to field first. He took three wickets but conceded 47 runs in his full quota of four overs.
Gladiators fought back in the second half of the innings to post a respectable total on the board with Iftikhar firing in with his massive hits and keeping jam-packed Bugti Stadium on its toes.
Khusdhil Shah, on the other hand, contributed 36 from 24 balls before he fell prey to Wahab in the 18th over.
Quetta Captain Sarafaraz, however, managed just four from 12 balls before he was knocked out by Aamer Jamal. who could only score four runs, was cleaned up by Aamir Jamal. Abdul Wahid Bangalzai scored 28 in 19.
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