DUBAI: Lahore Qalandars’ unceremonious exit from the HBL Pakistan Super League on Thursday came as little surprise to fans and critics after the Luke Ronchi-inspired Islamabad United mauled them by six wickets at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Thursday.
The return game hardly lived up to what transpired in Sharjah six days ago when these two sides were involved in a frenetic thriller in which Islamabad not only clawed to tie the scores but also win the super-over eliminator six days ago.
This time, however, there was no repeat of that as Lahore succumbed to their sixth straight defeat but still remaining in contention to challenge for a playoff spot provided if other results favour them.
A Brendon McCullum cameo, 33 off 12 balls (three sixes and two fours), helped Lahore to pile up a decent score of 163-8 which was also their highest in this PSL edition after Misbah-ul-Haq opted to bowl first at the toss.
But Ronchi made it ridiculously easy for the inaugural PSL champions with another blazing innings. Four days after dismantling the Karachi Kings bowling for 71, the wicket-keeper/batsman thrashed 77 from just 41 balls with six sixes and five fours to settle the game handsomely in his team’s favour.
Islamabad surged into second place behind Multan Sultans were always on course as Ronchi and Shadab Khan, who came in ahead of batting specialists to bang three sixes in a 24-ball 32, put up a match-winning second-wicket partnership of 87.
Earlier, the omission of Umar Akmal was the first major news of the afternoon, the Pakistan reject having mustered a poor 57 runs in the previous five matches. He was replaced byNew Zealander Anton Devcich.
Lahore also left out Sohail Akhtar to bring in Imran Jr while Aamir Yamin replaced Mustafizur Rahman, the Bangladesh paceman who is on national duty in the ongoing T20 tri-nation series in Sri Lanka.
With the batting being their Achilles heel thus far in the tournament, Lahore finally got the start they wanted as Fakhar Zaman (34 off 24 balls, two sixes and two fours) and Devcich put on 56 in 41 balls.
Fakhar, the chief run-maker during the opening stand, was initially adjudged not out by Tim Robinson, the England umpire who had a tough time on Wednesday night during the Quetta Gladiators-Multan Sultans. But the DRS called by Misbah revealed Fakhar had nicked J.P. Duminy to the keeper.
McCullum, to the surprise of many, held himself back and let Denesh Ramdin go in when Agha Salman (8) holed out to Sahibzada Farhan in the 12th over but the move backfired as the West Indian ate up no less than 20 deliveries for his nine runs.
The questionable change in the batting order plus lack of intensity in the field put a big question mark on another listless effort from the Lahore side which has just not managed to click in all the three seasons of PSL.
Fakhar Zaman c Ronchi b Duminy 34 A.P. Devcich c Sami b Fahim 62 Agha Salman c Farhan b Shadab 8 D. Ramdin b Fahim 9 B.B. McCullum not out 33 S.P. Narine b Fahim 6 Sohail Khan b Sami 1 Aamir Yamin run out 1 Salman Irshad run out 1 Extras (lb-1, w-7) 8 Total (for eight wkts, 20 overs) 163 FALL OF WKTS: 1-56, 2-101, 3-121, 4-122, 5-149, 6-150, 7-162, 8-163. DID NOT BAT: Yasir Shah, Imran Khan Jr. BOWLING: Duminy 4-0-38-1 (2w); Patel 1-0-10-0; Mohammad Sami 4-0-36-1; Finn 3-0-31-0 (3w); Fahim Ashraf 4-0-32-3 (1w); Shadab Khan 4-0-15-1
J.P. Duminy c McCullum b Narine 21 L. Ronchi c Aamir b Narine 77 Shadab Khan c Fakhar b Imran 32 Asif Ali lbw b Narine 7 Misbah-ul-Haq not out 12 Sahibzada Farhan not out 3 Extras (lb-2, w-8, nb-2) 12 Total (for four wkts, 17.4 overs) 164 FALL OF WKTS: 1-47, 2-134, 3-145, 4-151. DID NOT BAT: Hussain Talat, S.R. Patel, Fahim Ashraf, Mohammad Sami, S.T. Finn. BOWLING: Fakhar Zaman 2-0-21-0; Sohail Khan 3-0-29-0 (2w); Yasir Shah 4-0-26-0 (1nb); Narine 4-0-28-3 (1w); Imran Khan Jr 2.4-0-24-1; Aamir Yamin 1-0-16-0 (1w); Salman Irshad 1-0-18-0 (1nb). RESULT: Islamabad United won by six wickets. UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and R.T. Robinson (England). TV UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz (Pakistan). MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees (Pakistan). MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Luke Ronchi. FRIDAY’S FIXTURES: Multan Sultans vs Lahore Qalandars (4:30pm PST); Peshawar Zalmi vs Islamabad United (9:00pm).
(Tabulated under played, won, loss, no result, points, net run-rate): Multan Sultans 7 4 2 1 9 +0.628 Islamabad United 6 4 2 0 8 +0.054 Karachi Kings 5 3 1 1 7 +0.382 Peshawar Zalmi 6 3 3 0 6 +0.490 Quetta Gladiators 6 3 3 0 6 +0.143 Lahore Qalandars 6 0 0 0 6 -1.616
*standings updated before start of Karachi Kings vs Quetta Gladiators fixture on Thursday night.
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018