Cnn-pointAizaz Cheema overcame a horror start to his night to win the game for his team. — Photo courtesy: PSL
DUBAI: Quetta Gladiators reach the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final as they beat Peshawar Zalmi by one run in a nail biting finish in front of a jam-packed Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Aizaz Cheema overcame a horror start to his night to win the game for his team as he took consecutive wickets of Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz when Zalmi just needed four runs to win off four deliveries.

In defence of 133, Gladiators continued to strike in regular intervals with Grant Elliott and Mohammad Nawaz taking three wickets to themselves.

Cheema ended his spell with figures 4-0-34-2, while Anwar Ali also chipped in by claiming one wicket.

With six down for 84 at one point, Darren Sammy freed his arms and smacked a might six and a four to Anwar in the 17th over that saw a dramatic shift in the game only to be ended by Elliott in the next over.

Sammy and Wahab (22) were set on course to chase down the target but a few reckless shots by key batsmen cost Zalmi the match.

Rest of the batsmen couldn’t live up to the expectations with Kamran Akmal (nine), Mohammad Hafeez (15), Brad Hodge (zero), Jonny Bairstow (15), Shahid Yousuf (15), Shahid Afridi (two) and Hasan Ali giving away his wicket for five.

Zalmi ended up scoring 132-9 in 20 overs.

Zalmi started off well but with Nawaz dismissing Hafeez and Hodge on back to back deliveries turned things back into the favour of Gladiators. He was awarded the Man of the Match.

Earlier, Peshawar Zalmi bowlers kept their line and length in check to dismiss Quetta Gladiators for 133 (all out).

Bismillah Khan was the first to depart on zero, and others coming down the order followed suite, except for Kevin Pietersen (53) and Kumar Sangakkara (37) who put up some resistance.

Ahmed Shehzad (six), Sarfraz Ahmed (zero), Mohammad Nawaz (20), Grant Elliott (five), Nathan McCullum (five), Anwar Ali (one) and Zulfiqar Babar (zero) couldn’t put up their top performance in front of a charged-up Zalmi pace attack.

Wahab Riaz was the most successful bowler with figures 3.3-0-17-3, followed by Shaun Tait 4-0-23-2. Mohammad Asghar, Hasan Ali, Shahid Afridi and Darren Sammy also chipped in by claiming a wicket each.

England’s Johnny Bairstow and New Zealand’s Nathan McCullum made their Pakistan Super League (PSL) debuts as Zalmi won the toss and elected to field first in the first playoff.

Bairstow is making his first appearance for Zalmi who also persisted with rookie paceman Hassan Ali for the all-important game.

For the Gladiators, McCullum comes in place of Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi who has linked up with the national team for the Asia Cup Twenty20.

Sixteen days ago the prospect of staging the PSL on time seemed uncertain. Yet two weeks after a spectacular opening ceremony, Pakistan’s T20 league has generated great buzz.

The Gladiators, led by Sarfraz Ahmed, have captured the imagination with their low-key build up to the tournament and the presence of West Indies great Sir Viv Richards as the team’s mentor.

They have unearthed a star in all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz, while players like Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi and Zimbabwe’s Elton Chigumbura have been instrumental in wins.

Zalmi, led by the enigmatic Shahid Afridi, have backed dazzling marketing campaigns with powerful performances on the field making them the most-admired team of the PSL.

The two teams have a 1-1 head-to-head record but Zalmi won the last encounter comprehensively.

Teams
Peshawar Zalmi: Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), Brad Hodge, Shahid Yousuf, Jonny Bairstow, Shahid Afridi (captain), Darren Sammy, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Asghar, Shaun Tait and Hasan Ali.

Quetta Gladiators: Bismillah Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Kevin Pietersen, Kumar Sangakkara, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain/wicketkeeper), Mohammad Nawaz, Grant Elliott, Nathan McCullum, Anwar Ali, Zulfiqar Babar and Aizaz Cheema.