Incredible bowling in the death by Lahore Qalandars’ pacers kicked off their title defence with a sensational one-run win over Multan Sultans in the opening match of the HBL Pakistan Super League 8.
Multan Sultans, playing in front of the home crowd at the Multan Cricket Stadium, required 49 off the last five overs and with set batter Mohammad Rizwan and David Miller at the crease seemed on course to a comfortable win.
But, in an outstanding spell of death bowling, Shaheen Shah Afridi gave only 16 runs in two overs (16th and 18th) and bowled Rizwan with a slower one. Haris Rauf was equally brilliant, giving only four runs in the 17th and removing Miller with a pitch perfect yorker at the start of the 19th.
Experienced T20 batter Kieron Pollard, who Multan Sultans had picked in the replacement draft, smashed Haris for a six and a four towards the end of the penultimate over that added 14 runs for his side and left only 15 to be chased in the last over.
Shaheen trusted Zaman Khan, who had bowled incredibly well in the last season to defend 12 off the last over against Islamabad United, and the right-arm fast bowler delivered.
In what turned out to be dramatic last over, Pollard was run out, running for the second, on the second ball, the third ball, a full toss, thudded onto Usman Khan’s pad right in front of stumps, Usama Mir was run out on the fourth, Khushdil Shah spanked the second last ball for a four to bring down the equation to six off one but failed to connect the last ball that raced away for four instead.
This was Multan Sultans’ first defeat at home – they had won their all three matches here in 2020 – and that came from a side who were playing their first-ever match at this venue.
Multan Sultans had a solid start to the run chase of 176 with Shan Masood (35 off 31) and Rizwan, whose 75 off 50, comprising eight fours and a six, was the top score in the match, putting a 100-run partnership. Shan was caught off Hussain Talat on the 12.2 overs marks and that was the only wicket to fall before Rizwan’s dismissal.After Multan Sultans had accumulated 53 runs in the Powerplay, Lahore Qalandars did well to dry up the flow of boundaries as when Miller, who scored 24 off 20, struck David Wiese for four on the second ball of the 14th over; it ended a 28-ball-long boundary drought.
Lahore Qalandars were given a solid start by the opening pair of Fakhar Zaman, who became the only second batter in the HBL PSL to cross the 2,000-run mark, and debutant Mirza Tahir Baig after Rizwan, the Multan Sultans captain, decided to field after winning the toss. The pair added 61 runs before Tahir fell to Akael Hosein after scoring 32 off 26.
It seemed like Fakhar, who scored the most runs in the HBL PSL 7, had picked up from where he left his form in the Lahore Qalandars colours as he continued to score at a brisk pace and brought up his 17th half century of the tournament in 32 balls. He added 58 runs with Shai Hope, who scored 19 off 17.
Player of the match Fakhar went on to hit five sixes and three fours in his 42-ball 66 before he became the second wicket to fall in tandem when he holed out to deep square leg off Usama Mir on the first ball of the 16th over. This was leg-spinner Usama’s second wicket after he had sent back Hope earlier in the innings. On the previous delivery, pacer Ihsanullah had dismissed Kamran Ghulam, who could make only three off six balls.
Hussain played a cameo in the lower middle-order, smashing 20 off 12 and Sikander Raza, Qalandars’ Zimbabwean import, made 19 not out off 14. Hussain was dismissed in the penultimate over by Ihsanullah.
Shahnawaz Dahani picked up his solitary wicket on the last ball of the innings when he struck David Wiese’s pad in front of stumps.