KARACHI: Excellent knocks by Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez helped Lahore Qalandars cruise to their second straight victory in the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 when they crushed Quetta Gladiators by nine wickets at the National Stadium on Monday.
Quetta’s second defeat on the trot left their skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed livid as his charges simply let the match slip away from their grasp. Fakhar and Hafeez toyed with a bowling attack that was disappointingly toothless from start to finish.
Fakhar, the man-of-the-match, roared into form after a lean patch with an unbeaten 82, while Hafeez delighted the sparse crowd of 3,000 with breathtaking strokes. It must be remembered that he crossed the age of 40 last October.
The right-hander thrashed a blistering 73 from just 33 deliveries — a remarkable achievement considering that his first 10 runs came off 12 balls. Outscoring Fakhar — who hit eight boundaries and two sixes during his 52-ball contribution — in their unfinished stand of 115 in just 59 balls, Hafeez clubbed six sixes and five fours.
Lahore Qalandars’ sixth success in 11 meetings with Quetta Gladiators was their third on the trot against Sarfaraz’s men.
Fakhar and Hafeez were not the only heroes for Qalandars. Their unsung captain Sohail Akhtar scored 21 before falling to leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood after the first-wicket partnership put on 64 from 52 balls, setting the stage for the Fakhar-Hafeez show.
Earlier, Chris Gayle promised Quetta Gladiators something big before the start of this game. The self-styled “universe boss” helped Quetta Gladiators post a challenging score of 178-6 with 68 — the left-hander’s best score in the PSL on his 16th appearance.
The trend of bowling first after winning the toss has been a regular feature in T20 cricket — more often than not in PSL history — and the pattern continued for the fourth fixture running when Sohail Akhtar took this option after Sarfaraz Ahmed wrongly called ‘heads’.
Lahore Qalandars welcomed back Pakistan speedster Haris Rauf, who missed Sunday’s four-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi, while Quetta Gladiators replaced Test paceman Naseem Shah with Pakistan discard Anwar Ali. and Afghanistan spinner Qais Ahmad with leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood for his PSL debut. The latter had won his first international cap in the final Twenty20 match against South Africa last week.
Quetta promoted Saim Ayub to partner Tom Banton after the experiment of Sarfaraz opening against holders Karachi Kings on Saturday flopped. Both openers fell for single-figure scores.
Sarfaraz usually relishes situations like the one he encountered on Monday. While Gayle flirted with danger, Sarfaraz was brilliant in keeping the scoreboard ticking as the pair registered the first 100-plus partnership of this edition of HBL PSL. Their stand of 101 in 68 deliveries changed the tempo of Quetta’s innings.
Gayle crunched 50 of his runs in boundaries and hoisted five sixes, including a monstrous blow against Haris that travelled 99 metres. Sarfaraz scored 40 off 33 balls, laced with five boundaries.
Mohammad Nawaz chipped in with a breezy 20-ball 33 (three sixes and one four), but it was never going to be enough as Sarfaraz found out in the end.
T. Banton c Ahmed b Haris 4
Saim Ayub c Sohail b Shaheen 3
C.H. Gayle b Rashid 68
Sarfaraz Ahmed c Dunk b Haris 40
Azam Khan c Shaheen b Ahmed 13
Mohammad Nawaz not out 33
B.C.J. Cutting b Haris 5
Anwar Ali not out 1
EXTRAS: (LB-5, W-4, NB-2) 11
TOTAL: (for six wkts, 20 overs) 178
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 4-0-43-1 (1nb); Haris Rauf 4-0-38-3 (1nb, 2w); Mohammad Hafeez 2-0-11-0; Ahmed Daniyal 4-0-29-1; Rashid Khan 4-0-30-1 (1w); Wise 2-0-22-0.
Fakhar Zaman not out 82
Sohail Akhtar b Zahid 21
Mohammad Hafeez not out 73
EXTRAS: (LB-1, W-1, NB-1) 3
TOTAL: (for one wkt, 18.2 overs) 179
BOWLING: Mohammad Nawaz 2-0-8-0; Mohammad Hasnain 3.2-0-31-0 (1w); Usman Khan Shinwari 4-0-47-0 (1nb); Anwar Ali 3-0-33-0; Zahid Mahmood 3-0-28-1; Cutting 3-0-31-0.
RESULT: Lahore Qalandars won by nine wickets.
UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Asif Yaqoob (Pakistan).
TV UMPIRE: Ahsan Raza (Pakistan).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Fakhar Zaman (Lahore Qalandars).
Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021