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Lahore Qalandars edge out Karachi Kings in one of the greatest T20 matches ever

Updated March 11, 2018

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— PSL
— PSL

Lahore Qalandars won the toss and opted to field first in the 24th fixture of the Pakistan Super League 2018 in Dubai on Sunday.

They say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The two teams did just that, keeping faith with the same line-ups that helped them get the W in their respective previous outings.

Captain Brendon McCullum's peculiar choice for opening the bowling continued as this time he tossed the ball to Anton Devcich. Within a few minutes it proved to be the wrong decision as Lendl Simmons cracked three 4s off the kiwi spinner's bowling in the opening over.

His partner, Joe Denly, who played a 78-run knock in the Kings' win over the Sultans last time out, couldn't do the same this time and was out early; Yasir Shah picked up his wicket.

Shah almost had Babar Azam dismissed the very next ball, only for the young Shaheen Shah Afridi to drop the most simplest of catches.

The gaffe would not go unpunished as Azam and Simmons' partnership blossomed, with the latter in particular looking in the mood for a big score.

By the end of 5 overs, the Kings were 36-1.

With the run rate on the lower side, the pairing sped up things; Azam hit two boundaries in the 6th over and Simmons smacked three of his own in the next.

Sunil Narine and Mitchell McClenaghan bowled a couple of tight overs but the Kings still had a more-than-decent 85 after 10 overs and had nine wicket intact.

Simmons, meanwhile, brought up his half century.

Narine, however, bowled a tight 11th, putting pressure to accelerate on Simmons (39-ball 55), who holed out to McClenaghan at long-on in the next over.

Most teams in PSL 2018 have been surprisingly good in the field, but then the Qalandars are not most teams; Sohail Khan dropped Colin Ingram's catch in the 14 over, at the end of which the Kings were 105-2.

Narine bowled another tight over in the 15th, leaving the Kings 109-2 and in need for a late spurt of runs.

The young Afridi was excellent in the last game but not so much here as his second, the innings' 16th, went for 14 runs and featured three boundaries.

Sohail removed Ingram in the 16th but was smashed for a six the very next ball by Azam, who brought up his third fifty in four PSL matches with that stroke.

Having scored a 49-ball 61, Azam departed in the 19th over.

That set the stage for a rare Afridi versus Afridi battle as in walked the veteran Shahid Afridi to face his namesake: Shaheen Shah Afridi.

The older Afridi copped some criticism for his animated celebration after dismissing the 19-year-old Saif Badar in the last game. And he continued his teenage-bashing ways, hitting the 17-year-old Shaheen for a huge six the first ball he faced.

However, the youngster instantly avenged himself as well as Badar, bowling out Boom Boom the next ball. Unlike the older Afridi, however, the younger one refused to celebrate his wicket out of respect.

In the end, the Kings finished with 163 runs for the loss of 5 wickets.

For the Qalandars, Anton Devcich once again looked in great touch early on as he smacked five fours in his 14-ball stay, contributing 24 runs before Mohammad Irfan Jr bowled him out with a delivery that should've instead been launched for six.

Agha Salman joined the party, cracking two excellent boundaries off Irfan Jr deliveries.

By the end of 5 overs, the Qalandars were 41-1, with the match equally poised.

The pair batted responsibly for the next five overs, taking their team 82-1 at the halfway mark. In between, Fakhar Zaman treated Irfan Jr an Afridi with a few of his personal favourite shots.

Usually, the Qalandars wickets tumble pretty regularly but they weren't this time — much to the dismay of the Kings. Their annoyance was finally remedied by their captain Imad Wasim in the 12th over.

Zaman, for some reason, tried hitting a ball pitched way outside the off stump to the long-on boundary and paid the price. Watch out for Imad's Cristiano Ronaldo celebration.

Agha Salman top-edged a Wasim delivery in the 15th over but it had enough behind him to sail over the boundary. By the end of that over, the Qalandars were 114-3, needing 50 more off 30 balls.

Irfan's 16th leaked 13 runs and swung the match in Lahore's favour but Amir reciprocated by conceding just 3 in the 17th as the match once again hung in balance.

McCullum ramped an Usman Shinwari ball for a six in the 18th but Salman's (50 off 45) attempt to clear the boundary in the same over had him caught at the boundary; Babar Azam and Simmons combined for a wonderful effort.

In the next four balls, McCullum and Sohail Khan departed as the Kings were back on top and Lahore once again staring at a defeat.

Off the final over, they needed 16 to win with McClenaghan and Sohail Akhtar in the middle.

When all seemed lost, Akhtar turned the game on its head, hitting a four and six to bring Lahore back into the match.

But as they always do, the Qalandars faltered when in control, with McCleneghan departing the next ball. One run later, Gulraiz Sadaf was off the strike and Akhtar tasked with getting his side over the line.

With three needed off the last ball, Akhtar slogged but only found the long-on fielder. The Kings were beginning to start their celebration when the camera spotted that Usman had overstepped.

Lots of confusion, discussion and replays later, the revised ask for the Qalandars was two runs off one ball. Usman bowled it right in the block hold, allowing just a single as it came down to PSL 2018's second super over to find the winner between the two.

The super over started off horribly for the Qalandars, who lost Zaman on the first ball and managed to hit just a solitary boundary off Amir, setting a modest 12-run target for the Kings.

Last time McCullum was in this situation he had tossed the ball to Mustafizur Rahman — a decision that in hindsight proved horribly wrong. This time, however, he learned from that error, picking Narine to ball the final six balls.

Narine bowled a tight line, confusing the Karachi batters with his variations, giving just one run and also picking a wicket off the first five balls.

Afridi smacked him for a six on the final ball but it was too little too late. Lahore had won a match they should have won a lot easily and a lot earlier.

Agha Salman was named the man of the match.

Line-ups

Lahore XI: Fakhar Zaman, Anton Devcich, Agha Salman, Gulraiz Sadaf(wK), Brendon McCullum(capt.), Sohail Akhtar, Sunil Narine, Sohail Khan, Mitchell McClenaghan, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi

Karachi XI: Joe Denly, Lendl Simmons, Shahid Afridi, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, Ravi Bopara, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Imad Wasim (capt), Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan