LAHORE: David Wiese provided the lift-off Lahore Qalandars so direly needed with his bat. He then did it with the ball, defending eight runs in the final over as the Qalandars eked out a six-run win over Islamabad United under a light drizzle at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday night.
In a tense eliminator, it was a question of which side will hold their nerves. Qalandars did to keep alive their dream of a maiden HBL Pakistan Super League title. Defending champions Multan Sultans await in Sunday’s final.
But they wouldn’t have been there had Wiese (28 not out) not provided them with a final-over blitz in which he smashed Waqas Maqsood for 27 runs to help them post 168-7 after they had elected to bat.
United looked to have the game — and the target they had to chase — under control when Wiese unleashed his brute force. Waqas started with a wide before Wiese smoked him for consecutive sixes; the first sliced over deep point and the second driven over long off. A lucky top edge fetched a four off the third delivery but there was no doubt about Wiese’s conviction as he hit the penultimate delivery over deep midwicket for a massive six.
The Qalandars had their tails up. Captain Shaheen Shah Afridi then picked two wickets in the third over to leave United at 17-2.
Paul Stirling, who had hit him for a four and a six in the first over, flicked Shaheen to a diving Haris Rauf at long leg before the same combination saw Will Jacks depart.
United captain Shadab Khan made a quick 14 before Zaman Khan found his outside edge that went to wicket-keeper Phil Salt and United were reduced to 46-4 when Liam Dawson (12) was run out.
But opener Alex Hales (38) and Azam Khan (40) brought United back into the game with a 79-run stand as the game seemed to be drifting away from the Qalandars.
Azam took on the bowlers, hitting three fours and two sixes in his 28-ball knock, until he was needlessly run out trying to steal a quick single.
Hales departed soon after, Kamran Ghulam taking a superb leaping catch at the England batter tried to clear mid-off against Haris. The game, though, was still evenly balanced. United had the run rate in their favour and the explosive Asif Ali still at the crease.
Asif smacked Shaeen through extra cover for four in a dramatic 17th over in which he thought he’d dismissed Hasan Ali, only to find out that it was a no-ball. Hasan added to the Qalandars’ misery by hitting Shaheen for four.Zaman, removed Hasan in the next over but Asif had United on course for victory when he smashed a six off Haris Rauf on the second ball of the penultimate over. It was run-a-ball then for United.
But trying to finish off the game quickly, Asif perished on the last ball of that over, mistiming a pull that went straight to Harry Brook.
Mohammad Wasim Jr was the next United batter trusting his ability to finish off the game with one big shot. He refused to take a run off the first two deliveries of Wiese’s final over and when he did on the third ball, he was run out trying to get back for two.
Tailender Waqas Maqsood tried to heave Wiese away for six on his first ball but could only find Abdullah Shafique at deep midwicket, sparking Qalandars’ celebration.
They had won a game in which they had got off to the worst start possible, having seen both openers Fakhar Zaman and Phil Salt back in the dugout by the third over with the score at just seven with Dawson picking both wickets.
It was Abdullah (52) and Kamran (30) who spearheaded their recovery after their dismal start.
Dawson was hit for a six over deep midwicket by Abdullah before Kamran cut him away for four in the fifth over. Similar treatment was meted out to Athar Mahmood before Abdullah hit Shadab for back-to-back boundaries in his first over.
The big hits kept coming for Qalandars as Wasim was hit for a six each by Kamran and Abdullah in his first over. Hasan was welcomed with a four by Kamran before Abdullah got two more off the United pacer.
The duo had raised 69 runs in four overs but their 73-run stand was soon broken when Kamran could only get the toe-end of his bat to a tossed up delivery by Shadab which was snapped by Jacks.
That stemmed the flow of runs and led to Abdullah’s dismissal on the first ball of the 13th over when he mistimed a slower delivery from Waqas and Shadab grasped it while running back from mid-off.
Brook followed soon after when he was run out while coming back for a second run before Samit Patel (21) ended a boundary drought stretching five overs when he cut away Dawson for four in the 15th over.
Patel’s partner Mohammad Hafeez (28) too was finding boundaries hard to get, hitting just one four in his run-a-ball innings, before they were both dismissed in the 19th over by Wasim as they went for big shots. Qalandars needed a big final over. Wiese responded to set them up for victory.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2022