Peshawar Zalmi v Quetta Gladiators, PSL 2017, 1st playoff, Sharjah March 1, 2017

'This is how big players are made' - Nawaz


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WATCH - Mohammad Nawaz concedes no runs off the last three balls to take Quetta Gladiators to the final

Mohammad Nawaz was having a rough night with the ball in Sharjah. The three overs he had bowled until the 20th had already gone for 46. Excessive dew meant he could barely grip the ball and it hadn't helped that he was bowling one-over spells. There had been moments of smartness - the key dismissal of Mohammad Hafeez was one, and without the ball the catch to dismiss Shahid Afridi was, in hindsight, the moment the game turned.

But he had already conceded four sixes and three fours, thus defending six off this final over, with a two-time World T20I winner on strike, could only produce an unhappy ending.

Leaving him, or the rookie left-arm spinner Hasan Khan (3-0-36-0) with the last over, in fact, had seemed like a mistake. And when Tymal Mills' valiant but unsuccessful effort at short third man off the second ball actually helped the ball along to the boundary, the game was done. Except it wasn't.

Nawaz conceded a single off the next four balls. He dismissed Chris Jordan first, a flatter, quicker delivery that found the edge and which Sarfraz Ahmed did well to hold on to. And then two inch-perfect yorkers in succession forced two run-outs, allowing Quetta to pull off a sensational one-run win - a margin replicating last year's playoff win over the same opponents.

"There was a lot of pressure, the way the ball had been coming on to the bat and how wet it was," Nawaz told Geo TV. "But our plan was to bowl the first three balls outside off and break it away."

Once the equation came down to two off three, the plan changed. Among others, Kevin Pietersen, playing his last game of the tournament, suggested going for yorkers.

"KP said on the fifth ball 'just bowl a yorker'. It came out perfect. On the last ball a few said bowl length, some said go for the yorker. But we agreed to bowl a yorker and they just came out perfect.

"I had a lot going through my mind at the time. But I was also calm, thinking I could do this."

Nawaz was one of the poster boys of the PSL's first season, the very reason such a league was created in the first place - to bring to the fore young players like him and turn them into big-game players.

He was the third-highest wicket-taker last year and his 13 wickets included arguably the ball of the tournament: a delicious, orthodox spinner that undid Brad Hodge, incidentally also in the playoff win over Peshawar.

Finding his feet with Pakistan has not been as simple, in any of the formats, even with their desperate search for any kind of allrounder. But bowling an over like this - all of it to international cricketers - can be an important developmental landmark.

"Absolutely, this is one of the best overs I have bowled. In such a big match, on this pitch, with so much dew. Especially after that kind of over I can't help but feel pretty confident.

"This is how big players are made, when they perform in big matches like this. This is only the start of my career, but in future I hope to learn more from it and keep performing."

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfan82943729 on March 4, 2017, 2:56 GMT

    wonderful cricket match of Quetta and Peshawar

  • Taz Mirza on March 2, 2017, 1:28 GMT

    What a game of cricket #PSL at it's best. We all should leave politics aside and enjoy sport. PSL is great entertainment

  • iqbal7861 on March 1, 2017, 23:52 GMT

    @cricfan34683935. duh! its for the Pakistanis thus the name Pakistan Super league. I feel bad for people that have to go through their lives with a very low IQ.

  • molab14586992 on March 1, 2017, 22:21 GMT

    Nawaz is like going in a match with an off spinner that can bat a bit i was hoping he was like jadeja but no he does not seem like even half of what decent internationals have we wasted 20 or so matches on him really in the team we need guys that can bowl and bat or even a hitter would do but nawaz is more of a no5 but he doesnt play that way

  • qadirh7692046 on March 1, 2017, 16:53 GMT

    Support the guy & let's hope more & more good young talent comes out of the pack.Hamid Qadir Kashmir

  • shani on March 1, 2017, 15:41 GMT

    What is going on here, every match is a thriller,, this psl2017 is the best competative tournament i have seen in my whole life,,

  • Assad on March 1, 2017, 13:39 GMT

    Pakistanis are watching, Indians are watching, Bangladeshi's are watching, South Africans are watching, infact everybody is watching. I work in multidisciplinary office with many nationalites and everybody is really watching- and it seems as though my friend you are also watching @ cricfan34683935.

  • Steve on March 1, 2017, 13:10 GMT

    If I ever saw brainless batting in T20s anywhere, this was one by Zalmi. I do hope they don't go to finals and this would be the last match Afiridi plays. Afridi's brainless shot, having done all the good work up until then and with an asking rate only run a ball, he recklessly threw his wkt away and lost the match for his team. This innings typifies his cricket career achievements.

  • Saifullah Farooqui on March 1, 2017, 12:58 GMT

    CRICFAN34683935: Then what are you doing here? Get out.

  • Viren on March 1, 2017, 10:38 GMT

    Pre-empting that you are a big player, a bit unwise I would think...

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