LAHORE: Defending champions Lahore Qalandars will face Multan Sultans in the final of HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) season eight here on Saturday (today) as they pushed Peshawar Zalmi out of contention in the Eliminator 2 here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday night.
Peshawar Zalmi produced 171 runs for five despite middle overs hiccups. Lahore chased the target after losing six wickets in 18.5 overs with seven balls to spare.
Saturday’s game will be a repeat of the previous season’s final that Lahore Qalandars won beating Multan Sultans by 42 runs in 2022.
It was for the first time the team chasing won the match as previously all the matches played here during the current season were won by the team batting first.
Lahore Qalandars in their approach lacked discipline early on until Mirza Tahir Baig and Sam Billings brought things under control with their authoritative batting.
Their bowling leaked runs in the initial and later in the death overs to allow Zalmi to have a solid total.
Even in their chase though their run rate was within the limit, they were down two wickets by the start of fifth over. After Baig’s departure, Billings and Sikandar Raza kept runs flowing and brought the target within Lahore’s reach. But the fall of Billings and Raza in the 17th and 18th overs, respectively, made the match interesting. However, the score still remained within Lahore’s reach and David Wiese and Shaheen Shah overhauled the target with the latter hitting a six off Salman Irshad to get Lahore over the line.
In start of their chase, their inform batsman Fakhar Zaman dashed down the track away from leg stump to only allow Azmatullah's delivery to hit the middle stump.
At 15 for one, Lahore’s debutant Ahsan Hafeez swirled a top edge off Wahab Riaz to short fine leg and keeper Haseebullah took it comfortably. He scored 15 runs in 10 balls (2x4 1x6) and Lahore had 38 onboard for the loss of two wickets.
Opener Mirza Tahir Baig and Abdullah Shafique after a 31 runs partnership fell apart when the latter was run out while attempting a second run in the 9th over. Abdullah for his 10 runs took as many balls with no boundary. Lahore then were at 69.
Needing 99 runs now in 66 balls, Lahore were in desperate need of a big innings with Baig and Sam Billings holding the guard. Both these batters responded well to the call providing a 50 runs partnership for the fourth wicket.
Mirza Baig faced 48 balls for his 54 with seven fours and two maximums. Billings stayed behind at 17 then.
Billings and Sikandar Raza took the score to 147 when the wicketkeeper batsman was bowled by Salman Irshad. Moments later Raza became the second scalp of Azamatullah. Billings made 21-ball 28 while Raza scored 14-ball 23. David Wiese (9) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (11) shaved off the remaining deficit to get Lahore Qalandars to their second straight final.
“For me, it's a massive achievement and a humbling experience. Inshallah we'll defend our trophy,” said Qalandars allrounder Sikandar Raza. “Tahir and Sam Billings had a very good partnership. We said instead of slogging, good cricket shots will give you a lot of reward and running hard between the wickets. We planned well to maximise our rest to hydrate well, eat well. Everyone was fit and ran hard between the wickets. Shaheen allows us to speak. It's not always him. Sam Billings, David Wiese, myself, he opens the floor to let anyone speak. So he always consults others and is a brave captain,” he added.
Azmatullah Omarzai had two wickets while Wahab Riaz, who pulled hamstring after bowling three overs, Amer Jamal and Salman Irshad got one wicket each.
The losing team captain Babar Azam said: “We had a good first 11 overs, but then overs 11 to 15 we didn't score enough. We needed 185. The wicket was a little two-paced. After 10 overs the ball reversed a little bit for the pacers and it became a little difficult. In the end, our bowling was not up to the mark. We were good for 8 to 9 overs in the field, but not the full 20.”
Pacer Zaman Khan penetrated early on in Zalmi's batting lineup when he dismissed Saim Ayub (9) with a delivery that came back into the stumps. Peshawar were 15 for one.
But that setback did not disturb Peshawar’s aggressive approach with skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Haris hammering 89 runs in 60 balls for the second wicket.
However, Rashid Khan clicked with two back-to-back wickets in the 12th over. He first sent Babar packing for 42 off 36 balls and then Tom Kohler-Cadmore (0) back to the dughouse. Babar, however, surged to the top of batting average for the season with 522 runs thus moving ahead of Mohammad Rizwan who has 516 from 11 matches.
Haris maintained the flow of runs and went on to get his second PSL half century in 28 balls. He continued to frustrate Lahore bowlers. Before becoming the only victim of Shaheen Shah Afridi, he scored 85 runs in 54 balls. His impressive knock included 11 fours and two sixes.
Shaheen was quite expensive in his bowling as in his four overs he got one wicket and conceded 41 runs.
Peshawar Zalmi won the toss:
Peshawar Zalmi Innings:
Ayub b Zaman 9
Azam (c)lbw b Rashid 42
Haris c Zaman b Shaheen 85
Cadmore c & b Rashid 0
Rajapaksa not out 25
Jamal b Zaman 1
Haseebullah †not out 5
Extras: (b 1, lb 1, w 2) 4
Total: 20 Ov 171/5
Did not bat: Wahab Riaz, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Salman Irshad
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-104, 3-104, 4-153, 5-165
Bowling: Shaheen 4-0-41-1, Zaman 3-0-20-2, Wiese 3-0-22-0, Rashid 4-0-42-2, Rauf 4-0-31-0, Hafeez 2-0-13-0
Lahore Qalandars Innings:
Baig c †Haseebullah b Jamal 54
Zaman b Azmatullah 6
Hafeez c †Haseebullah b Riaz 15
Shafique run out †Haseebullah 10
Billings †b Irshad 28
Raza b Azmatullah 23
Wiese not out 9
Shaheen (c)not out 12
Extras: (b 4, lb 7, w 8) 19
Total:18.5 Ov 176/6 Did not bat: Rashid Khan, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan
Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-38, 3-69, 4-119, 5-147, 6-161
Bowling: Rahman 4-0-35-0, Omarzai 4-0-31-2, Riaz 3-0-20-1, Jamal 3-0-32-1, Ayub 1-0-5-0, Irshad 3.5-0-42-1
Match result: Lahore won by 4 wickets
Man of the match: Mirza Tahir Baig
Umpires: Ahsan Raza, Martin Saggers
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