Mohammad Hafeez showed experience and class as Lahore Qalandars came from behind to defeat Quetta Gladiators in the fourth 2021 Pakistan Super League fixture at the National Stadium in Karachi on Monday.
The Qalandars, who were set a respectable target of 179 by the Gladiators, won the match with nine wickets in hand and 10 balls to spare, thanks to Hafeez's blistering 73-run knock and Fakhar Zaman's brilliant 52-ball 82.
The innings was opened for Qalandars by Zaman and Sohail Akhtar who frustrated the Gladiators' ballers with their stable partnership and multiple boundaries.
They cemented their partnership over the next few overs before Akhtar (21) was bowled by leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood.
Zaman became the second player in today's match to score a half-century, hitting 50 off 31 balls.
Akhtar was replaced by Hafeez, who along with Zaman lifted up their score from 69-1 at the end of 10 overs to 131 by the 15th over without any further wicket loss.
Although Man of the Match Zaman stood his ground till the end and remained unbeaten at 82, which included eight boundaries and two sixes, Hafeez arguably overshadowed him to quickly bridge the gap between the required runs and balls in the late overs. He made his 73 runs, including five fours and six fiery sixes, from 33 balls not out and hit a boundary on the second ball of the 19th over to seal the win for the Qalandars.
The Qalandars earlier won the toss and decided to bowl first.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Chris Gayle were undoubtedly the star scorers for the Gladiators, putting up a strong partnership after opener Tom Banton got out in the second over and Saim Ayub scored only three runs before returning to the pavilion.
Haris Rauf was the pick of the bowlers for Lahore Qalandars, claiming three wickets.
Banton and Ayub opened the batting for the Gladiators, but they suffered an early loss when Banton (4) mishit a ball from Rauf and was caught by Ahmed Daniyal in the second over.
Shaheen Shah Afridi also struck soon after, with Ayub being caught by Sohail Akhtar after making just 3.
But the ballers were unable to take down Gayle and Ahmed who built a strong partnership.
The Qalandars were also punished for dropping two catches from Gayle, who scored his 50 off 32 deliveries — his first in the PSL.
Captain Sarfraz (40) lost his wicket in the 13th over, caught out by Ben Dunk off Haris' ball.
Gayle was bowled out by Rashid Khan in the very next over after scoring 68 off 40 balls.
Gladiators lost their fifth wicket when Azam Khan was caught out by Afridi on Daniyal's ball.
Rauf struck again in the last over, bowling out Ben Cutting.
The Qalandars made one change to their playing XI, with Haris Rauf entering in place of Salman Mirza.
The Gladiators entered the match after suffering a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of Karachi Kings in the first match of this year's tournament on Saturday. The Qalandars, meanwhile, won their opening match by four wickets against Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday.
Lahore Qalandars: Sohail Akhtar (capt.), Fakhar Zaman, Agha Salman, Mohammad Hafeez, Ben Dunk (wk), Samit Patel, David Wiese, Rashid Khan, Ahmed Daniyal, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.
Quetta Gladiators: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wk), Chris Gayle, Tom Banton, Azam Khan, Saim Ayub, Ben Cutting, Muhammad Nawaz, Zahid Mehmood, Anwar Ali, Muhammad Hasnain, Usman Shinwari.