SHARJAH - Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed’s 39-ball 51 lead Quetta Gladiators innings as they chase down a target of 117 runs set by Islamabad United on a batting-friendly Sharjah Cricket Stadium pitch Thursday.

Gladiators successfully chased down the target in 16.1 overs, with Sarfraz taking up the responsibility on his shoulders after United’s pace spearhead Andre Russell made inroads earlier in the innings by taking two quick wickets. It was Ahmed Shehzad’s 41 off 31 deliveries and a 59-run stand with Sarfraz for the third wicket that put things back into Gladiators’ control.

Russell remained the most successful bowler for United by claiming three wickets. After dismissing Luke Wright (five) and Kevin Pietersen (zero) on consecutive deliveries during the third over, he returned to send Shehzad back to the hut in the 10th over. But by the time Shehzad departed, pressure was already off the Gladiators and they were sailing smoothly towards the victory. Earlier, Gladiators continued to take wickets in regular intervals to bowl out Islamabad United for a meager 117 in 19.1 overs. Last match’s star Sharjeel Khan failed to impress against Gladiator’s slow pace attack. He was dismissed for two by left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar.

Shane Watson, however, continued his impressive run and smashed a quick-fire 40 off 28 balls. His innings included three fours and three sixes, but was dismissed by Aizaz Cheema. New Zealand international Grant Elliott, who was playing his first match for Gladiators, also chipped in by taking three crucial wickets. After getting rid of United’s wicketkeeper batsman Brad Haddin and Sam Billings on consecutive deliveries, Elliott returned to dismiss Kamran Ghulam (nine). Haddin was stumped by Gladiators skipper Sarfraz Ahmed on 15, whereas Billings was trapped leg before on two. Gladiators skipper Sarfraz won the toss and decided to bowl first. It was an all-round performance by Gladiators bowling attack with Babar and Cheema claiming two wickets, while Anwar Ali, Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Nabi took one wicket each.

Gladiators were boosted by Elliot’s arrival into the squad. Sarfraz made two changes with Elliot replacing Elton Chigumbura and Aizaz Cheema coming in for Umar Gul. Islamabad United, on the other hand, brought in lanky fast-bowler M Irfan in place of Mohammad Sami.

Man of the match was Grant Elliot for his three wickets. “New Zealand is not that far away. It was happy to play alongside a passionate bunch of guys. The ball was stopping a touch. Sir Vivian is an inspirational guy, to meet the man in flesh is good,” he said.

Losing captain Shane Watson said: “After my wickets everything went down bad for us. The plan was to play better after two wins in the last two matches. We have to be better tomorrow now.”

Winning captain Sarfarz Ahmed was jubiliant: “All the credit goes to the guys and especially to the bowlers. Grant Elliot and Aizaz Cheema were exceptional for us. I want to carry my good form. Shehzad and KP are helping the team out there. Moin Khan and Sir Vivian are also holding the management part nicely.”

Scoreboard

ISLAMABAD UNITED:

S Watson c Ahmed b Aizaz 40

Sharjeel Khan c Akbar b Babar 2

B Haddin st Sarfraz b Elliott 15

Khalid Latif lbw b M Nabi 6

SW Billings lbw b Elliott 2

Imran c Sarfraz b M Nawaz 18

K Ghulam c Anwar b Elliott 9

AD Russell lbw b Babar 10

Saeed Ajmal c Babar b Anwar 10

Rumman Raees b Aizaz Cheema 2

M Irfan not out 0

EXTRAS: (w 3) 3

TOTAL: (all out; 19.1 overs) 117

FOW: 1-25, 2-55, 3-60, 4-64, 5-68, 6-86, 7-103, 8-103, 9-117, 10-117

BOWLING: Anwar Ali 2.1-0-10-1, Zulfiqar Babar 4-0-29-2, Aizaz Cheema 3-0-14-2, M Nawaz (3) 4-0-29-1, GD Elliott-4-0-25-3, M Nabi 2-0-10-1.

QUETTA GLADIATORS:

LJ Wright c Billings b Russell 5

Ahmed c Sharjeel b Russell 41

KP Pietersen b Russell 0

Sarfraz Ahmed not out 51

M Nawaz (3) not out 14

EXTRAS: (lb 1, w 5, nb 1) 7

TOTAL: (3 wickets; 16.1 overs) 118

FOW: 1-14, 2-14, 3-73

BOWLING: AD Russell 3-0-18-3, M Irfan 2-0-23-0, SR Watson 1-0-7-0, Rumman Raees 3-0-19-0, Saeed Ajmal 4-0-24-0, Imran Khalid 3.1-0-26-0

TOSS: Quetta Gladiators

UMPIRES: Aleem Dar, JS Wilson

TV UMPIRE: Shozab Raza (Pakistan)

MATCH REFEREE: M Anees (Pakistan)

RESERVE UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz (Pakistan)