Dubai: Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz may have won the Man of the Match award again after guiding Quetta Gladiators to an exciting three-wicket win over Pehawar Zalmi in Pakistan Super League (PSL) on Sunday night, but admits much of the credit rests with England’s Kevin Pietersen.
Nawaz was time and again encouraged by Pietersen, a former England skipper, to bowl at the right areas against Peshawar’s batsmen. “When you have a mentor like Viv Richards and Pietersen encouraging you to bowl at your best, everything falls into place. The wicket of Peshawar opener Tamim Iqbal (who hit two successive half centuries in the tournament) is an example. Pietersen told me to bowl at a particular spot - giving more air - and Iqbal fell into the trap that we had set. When I went to thank him for the wicket, Pietersen told me that it is your wicket and not mine.”
Nawaz, with a spell of three for 29 which also included the wickets of Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Yousuf, restricted Peshawar to 135 for seven in 20 overs despite Dareen Sammy’s breezy 48 off 31 balls with four sixes and one boundary.
For Nawaz, the win was an emotional one too. “One of my favourite all-rounders is Shahid Afridi (captain of Peshawar) along with Abdul Razzaq,” said Nawaz, who is hoping that with two MoM awards he has strengthened his claim for a place in the Twenty20 World Cup squad.
Chasing the total, Afridi inspired his bowlers to give their best. Shaun Tait had Ahmad Shehzad caught behind for 16 while Afridi trapped Luke Wright, also for 16.
Pietersen played a valuable knock of 35 for a 38-run partnership for the third wicket with his skipper Sarfraz Ahmad (21). Afridi pulled his team back into the game by picking the wicket of Sarfraz and also took the catch of Pietersen in the covers off Junaid Khan.
Pietersen fell when Quetta needed 18 runs to win from 14 balls. Seven runs were needed off the last over of Wahab Riaz when first Elton Chigumbura pulled him to mid-wicket boundary before a bye which carried to third man boundary brought victory with one ball to spare.
Brief scores: Quetta Gladiators bt Peshawar Zalmi by three wickets. Quetta 135 for seven in 20 overs (Shahid Yousuf 21, Darren Sammy 48; Mohammad Nawaz 3 for 29, Umar Gul 2 for 19) 139 for 7 in 19.5 overs (Kevin Pietersen 35, Sarfraz Ahmad 21, Shahid Afridi 2 for 17, Wahab Riaz 2 for 29) Man of the match: Mohammad Nawaz.