KARACHI: It was the Fakhar Zaman show at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Under floodlights, Fakhar was the shining star for Lahore Qalandars, single-handedly carrying them to victory against Karachi Kings with a century in their HBL Pakistan Super League match.
The opener Fakhar made 106 off just 60 deliveries but unfortunately couldn’t finish the job, ending up getting caught at deep third-man off Umaid Asif at the end of the 19th over.
Samit Patel (26 not out off 18) finished things off, hitting Lewis Gregory for two boundaries on the first two legitimate balls of the final over to take the Qalandars to 174-4 in reply to the Kings’ 170-7.
Fakhar had kept going on despite losing partners in Abdullah Shafique (8) and Kamran Ghulam (6) by the sixth over. Even Mohammad Hafeez’s departure after a 42-run partnership with the Mardan-born southpaw couldn’t move Fakhar.
He brought up his century in the 18th over as he pulled Mohammad Ilyas for a double with only 23 off 16 left to win for the Qalandars.
Ilyas followed it up with the wide ball, after which Fakhar slapped him towards wide long-on for another four. He took a single and allowed Samit Patel to hit two more boundaries as the Karachi fans looked on with their heads in their hands.
The next over saw Fakhar depart with for Samit taking the reign for the final act.
It was in the third over when Fakhar announced himself, drilling Aamer Yamin for three boundaries — two through the off side and one off his pads.
Qalandars could accumulate only nine runs off the next two overs by spinners Mohammad Nabi and Imad Wasim, while also losing Shafique.
But Fakhar targeted Ilyas when he was handed the ball by Kings’ skipper Babar Azam in the fifth over. The left-hander top-edged a hook for a six over fine-leg before once again hitting through the leg side for another boundary.
Kamran Ghulam, who hit a fifty in his previous outing, hit a boundary in the next over, but was undone by Umaid.
Pakistan veteran Hafeez played a signature cut through backward point only on his second ball for a boundary before hitting Gregory over the covers in the next over for another one.
Hafeez hit two more boundaries in the 11th off Nabi, sweeping the former Afghanistan skipper and then playing him through the offside on the last two balls. But Imad had Hafeez hole on down to Babar placed at long-off.
That left the Qalandars needing 81 off 49 but it didn’t affect Fakhar, who launched two consecutive sixes against Imad in the 14th over.
Fakhar continued the onslaught, while Babar saw the game gradually slipping out of his hands. And it was all but over when Ilyas came to bowl the 17th.
Earlier, Karachi could not really impress after losing hard-hitting opener Sharjeel Khan (60 off 39) to Hafeez at the start of the 11th over.
Sharjeel, who hit eight fours and three sixes, had taken the Kings to 84, laying the foundations for a big total.
But following his departure, the Kings could only add 86, raising questions over the team combination and the form of Babar, who took 33 balls to score 41, hitting only five boundaries.
Qalandar’s pacer Haris Rauf, who was hit for 18 runs in the last over in their five-wicket loss against Multan Sultans on Saturday, got three wickets.
However, it was all about Sharjeel after Qalandars sent Karachi in after winning the toss in an electric atmosphere at the venue despite attendances cut down to only 25 per cent of its capacity due to rising Covid-19 concerns.
Sharjeel had no regard for Qalandars captain and ICC Cricketer of the Year Shaheen Shah Afridi, who, as expected, bowled the first over.
First ball, the left-hander played a perfect off-drive behind backward point with supreme timing. The third ball, was punched over mid-off for another boundary before chipping one over the in-field towards leg-side for four.
The Hyderabad-born southpaw hit two more boundaries against emerging pacer Zaman Khan. Out of the next nine overs, Sharjeel hit a four or a six in eight, while Babar scored one boundary.
With Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan introduced into the attack in the fifth over, Sharjeel was given out by umpire Michael Gough on the first ball, when it looked like he was hit on his pads in front of the stumps.
However, the opener opted to go for a Decision Review System referral, which showed the ball would have gone over the stumps. Having survived, Sharjeel swept Rashid with full control for a four.
Sharjeel then smoked a six off a half-tracker by David Wiese over square-leg boundary and then took on slow left-armer Patel in his first over, pulling him for a four and and a six. He hit another maximum in the following over by Wiese.
With Sharjeel thriving, it required a special ball to get him out. The 40-year-old Hafeez, a specialist against left-handers, delivered. The former Pakistan captain pitched it on good length, forcing Sharjeel on the back foot, and getting the better of him as the ball spun away sharply, dislodging the stumps as the batter looked on.
Hafeez celebrated with his team while pointing at himself with both his hands.
The incoming Mohammad Nabi hit two fours before departing in the 14th off Zaman, while Babar added only three more boundaries after Sharjeel’s dismissal before being cleaned up by Rashid.
While Joe Clarke (24 off 18), tried to lift the Kings’ run-rate, it was Haris who pounced on the opportunity with the Kings under pressure.
The express pacer returned in the 18th over and struck on the third ball when Gregory, in an attempt to pull a short ball, skied it high for Shaheen to take an easy catch. In the last over, Haris was clubbed for a six over backward square-leg by Sahibzada Farhan, but he hit back with a yorker to castle the right-hander before dismissing Imad on the next ball when the all-rounder holed it to Rashid at deep midwicket.
Batters & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Sharjeel Khan b Hafeez 60 39 8 3 153.84
Babar Azam b Rashid 41 33 5 0 124.24
Mohammad Nabi c Shaheen b Zaman 15 14 2 0 107.14
J. Clarke not out 24 18 2 0 133.33
Aamer Yamin c Haris b Shaheen 9 6 1 0 150.00
L. Gregory c Shaheen b Haris 2 3 0 0 66.66
Sahibzada Farhan b Haris 8 5 0 1 160.00
Imad Wasim c Rashid b Haris 0 1 0 0 0.00
Umaid Asif not out 0 1 0 0 0.00
EXTRAS (B-7, W-4) 11
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 170
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-84 (Hafeez), 2-106 (Nabi), 3-122 (Babar), 4-138 (Yamin), 5-142 (Gregory), 6-163 (Farhan), 7-163 (Imad).
DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Taha, Mohammad Ilyas.
BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-31-1 (1w), Zaman 4-0-39-1 (2w), Rashid 4-0-24-1, Haris 4-0-33-3, Wiese 2-0-21-0, Samit 1-0-11-0, Hafeez 1-0-4-1 (1w).
Batters & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Fakhar Zaman c Imad b Umaid 106 60 12 4 178.66
Abdullah Shafique c Aamer b Nabi 8 8 1 0 100.00
Kamran Ghulam c Nabi b Umaid 6 9 1 0 66.66
Mohammad Hafeez c Babar b Imad 24 21 4 0 114.28
Samit Patel not out 26 18 4 0 144.44
D. Wiese not out 0 0 0 0 -
EXTRAS (W-4) 4
TOTAL (for four wkts, 19.2 overs) 174
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-24 (Abdullah), 2-48 (Kamran), 3-90 (Hafeez), 4-164 (Fakhar)
DID NOT BAT: B. Dunk, Rashid Khan , Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan.
BOWLING: Nabi 4-0-27-1 (1w), Aamer 1-0-14-0, Imad 4-0-28-1, Ilyas 3-0-43-0 (1w), Umaid 4-0-30-2 (1w), Gregory 3.2-0-32-0 (1w).
RESULT: Lahore Qalandars won by six wickets.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Fakhar Zaman (Lahore Qalandars)
UMPIRES: Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth (both England).
TV UMPIRE: Ahsan Raza (Pakistan).
MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2022