Embattled Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad finally found some form, smacking 71 off 46 balls to help Quetta Gladiators defeat Karachi Kings by eight wicket in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) on Saturday.
Shehzad, who has been under fire for his dipping international form, looked comfortable from the onset and easily out-batted belligerent partner Luke Wright (47) in Quetta’s chase of 148.
The 24-year-old hit five fours and four huge sixes and was ably supported by England discard Kevin Pietersen who remained unbeaten on 29 off 17 balls and finished the game off with a six.
Earlier, Quetta’s decision to bowl first paid immediate dividends as Karachi’s openers Nauman Anwar and Lendl Simmons were dismissed inside the powerplay.
The innings stuttered further as Shoaib Malik’s Karachi Kings found themselves on 4-69 in 11.4 overs as Quetta captain Sarfraz Ahmed shuffled his bowler’s smartly.
Malik 37 off 25 and England’s Ravi Bopara 40 off 29, hit some lusty blows to take the innings to 147/7 in 20 overs.
In response, Quetta found it smooth sailing against the likes of Mohammad Amir, Sohail Tanvir, Imad Wasim and Shakib Al Hasan, all of whom found it difficult to contain the opposition.
The win gave Quetta its second win in two games and the underrated side look like tournament-favourites all of a sudden. They will take on a strong Peshawar Zalmi side on Sunday.
Kohli also went through a bad patch
After the win, Shehzad said he wasn’t too worried about the battle for World Twenty20 spots and was solely focussed on the PSL campaign.
“For the last three years I have been giving my best for the Pakistan team. I play sincerely and work very hard. I am still young. There are times when a player fails to deliver consistently. Every player faces such times and its normal.”
Shehzad said he would be happy with what ever decision the selectors make when picking the World T20 squad.
“The innings I played today was not to pressurise the selectors or to get selected for Pakistan. I’d happy with whatever they decide for the World T20.”
“Players like Kohli, Dhawan, Sharma and Joe Root also lose their form, but it’s their talent and ability which makes them the best.”
“Players with such ability need to be backed and given confidence.”