LAHORE Qalandars captain Shaheen Shah Afridi runs out Multan Sultans batter Khushdil Shah to seal a one-run victory for his side in the Pakistan Super League final at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium on Saturday.—APP
LAHORE Qalandars captain Shaheen Shah Afridi runs out Multan Sultans batter Khushdil Shah to seal a one-run victory for his side in the Pakistan Super League final at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium on Saturday.—APP

LAHORE: It was nerve-shredding and breathless; a humdinger of a final. By the end of it all, there was an explosion of joy — and fireworks — for Lahore Qalandars. Multan Sultans had been floored; so close yet so far, just one run short.

The incredible title clash at the Gaddafi Stadium went down to the last ball; the last action being Qalandars skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi whipping off the bails at the non-striker’s end to run out Khushdil Shah as his side became the first repeat champions of the Pakistan Super League on Saturday night, defeating Sultans in the final for the second year in a row.

It was fitting that Shaheen it was who sealed it for his side. The match seemed to have ended as a contest when Shaheen, who was inspirational with both bat and ball when his side needed him the most, picked up three wickets in the 18th over only for Khushdil and Abbas Afridi to keep Sultans’ hopes alive.

Haris Rauf was belted for 22 in the penultimate over, leaving Sultans requiring 13 in an eventful final over but Zaman held his nerve for the most part of it, apart from the fourth delivery when he spurned a chance to run out Khushdil by missing the stumps from point-blank, to seal victory for his side by the barest of margins.

Khushdil had sliced Zaman away for four on the penultimate delivery to leave Sultans requiring four off the last ball. The left-handed Khushdil found space on the leg-side but he couldn’t complete the third run that would’ve taken the game into a Super Over, triggering wild celebrations among Qalandars players and their fans.

Lahore become first repeat winners with nerve-shredding one-run victory over Multan Sultans

There was a huge smile on Shaheen’s face. He deserved this after coming trumps in the last five overs of each inning — smashing a 15-ball 44 to help his side post 200-6 and then taking 4-51 to help restrict the Sultans to 199-8.

Arriving at the crease with the heart of his side ripped apart by Usama Mir (3-24), Shaheen’s explosive hitting had helped Qalandars plunder 85 runs off the last five overs.

It was pure, uninhibited; the lanky Shaheen hitting a towering six over long-on off Usama soon after arriving, giving his side the impetus with a 66-run partnership with Abdullah Shafique (65). It was in the 17th over when Shaheen really got going, pulling away pacer Ihsanullah for a massive six over square leg and then getting four over cover on the next ball. That over brought 24 runs and another six over long-off for Shaheen.

It allowed first-drop Abdullah to open up too, the right-hander cracking consecutive fours off Abbas to reach his half-century off 35 balls. Abdullah then blasted Anwar Ali down the ground for six to open the penultimate over and followed it up with a well-timed four past long-off. A reverse scoop over the keeper fetched another four before he was caught in the deep

But the over ended with momentum firmly with Qalandars as Shaheen hit a six down the ground before pummeling Abbas for four off the first ball of the final over and finishing it with a six over long-on.

NO HESITATION

There were fireworks before and after the toss, won by Qalandars with Shaheen having no hesitation in electing to bat. But a problem with the floodlights saw the start of the match delayed by 13 minutes.

Mirza Tahir Baig (30), though, provided a sparkling start to the innings, dispatching Sheldon Cottrell for four and then flicking him for six. A punch off his backfoot fetched him another boundary off Anwar Ali and Tahir then got three fours as Cottrell returned to bowl the third over, the second straight past the bowler.

But Tahir, whose half-century helped Qalandars down Islamabad United in the eliminator on Friday, perished as he tried to go big against Ihsanullah and only got an edge that was snapped up by Khushdil Shah at slip.

Tahir’s opening partner Fakhar Zaman had made a tentative start, perhaps mindful of his early dismissals in each of the last three games and his failure to go into double-digits in the last two. He was joined by Abdullah, who too had been struggling of late.

But Fakhar broke through, guiding Abbas Afridi for four and then cutting Kieron Pollard for another boundary. Abdullah had an early reprieve when Pollard dropped a return catch but he quickly got over it by disdainfully pulling away Abbas for six and driving Pollard for four over extra cover.

Fakhar saw a top-edge of Ihsan fly for six and after Abdullah pulled the pacer away for four as Qalandars reached the halfway stage of their innings at 82-1. The 50 partnership soon came up with Fakhar belting Anwar away for four and getting another boundary off the next ball.

But the Qalandars seemed to have lost their way with the introduction of spin, slipping from 95-1 to 112-5. Usama was their tormentor-in-chief as he had Fakhar caught at the square leg fence for 39 and then got two in two in his next over. First Sam Billings was cleaned up before Ahsan Hafeez fell lbw. Khushdil piled on the misery by rattling the stumps of Sikandar Raza.

The Zimbabwean’s dismissal brought Shaheen to the crease and as Qalandars accelerated, the Sultans were left chasing shadows of the ball.

 SHAHEEN Shah Afridi plays a shot during his explosive knock of 44.—AFP
SHAHEEN Shah Afridi plays a shot during his explosive knock of 44.—AFP

CHASING SHADOWS

The Qalandars were doing the same as the Sultans made an electric start with Shaheen being hit for six boundaries; three each by his counterpart Mohammad Rizwan and Usman Khan. But the change in pace provided by David Wiese got Qalandars their first breakthrough; the South African deceiving Usman with a slower delivery to knock back his stumps.

It brought Rilee Roussouw to the crease and the South African seemed intent on winning the game on his own, hitting boundaries at will and reaching 50 off 30 deliveries in the 11th over with an exquisite four off Rashid Khan; the seventh of his innings to go alongside two sixes.

But the Afghan leggie sent him packing two deliveries later, the left-hander dragging a delivery onto his stumps. It was the opening Qalandars needed and Rashid (2-26) then dismissed Rizwan thanks to a stunning catch by Wiese on the long-on boundary.

Needing 60 runs off the last five overs, Sultans’ hopes rested on big-hitters Tim David and Kieron Pollard but then came the Shaheen show.

Pollard (19) clipped Shaheen for four on the second delivery off the 16th but the pacer sent him back next ball; caught by Fakhar at mid-on.

He would then dismiss David (20) with the first ball of the 18th , caught by Wiese running in from the mid-off rope, before cleaning up Anwar through his legs and getting Usama caught with the last ball of his spell.

The Sultans seemed finished but Khushdil and Abbas had other ideas. Khushdil hit a six off Haris on the first ball of the 19th and Abbas launched him for six on the third ball over long-off, following it with two fours to set up a grandstand finish before Zaman, with advice from Shaheen on each delivery he bowled, did just enough.

SCOREBOARD

LAHORE QALANDARS:

Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Mirza Tahir Baig c Khushdil b Ihsanullah 30 18 5 1 166.66

Fakhar Zaman c Usman b Usama 39 34 4 1 114.70

Abdullah Shafique c Rossouw b Anwar 65 40 8 2 162.50

Sam Billings b Usama 9 8 0 1 112.50

Ahsan Hafeez lbw b Usama 0 1 0 0 0.00

Sikandar Raza b Khushdil 1 2 0 0 50.00

Shaheen Shah Afridi not out 44 15 2 5 293.33

David Wiese not out 2 2 0 0 100.00

EXTRAS (LB-2, W-8) 10

TOTAL (for six wickets, 20 overs) 200

DID NOT BAT: Rashid Khan, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-38 (Tahir), 2-95 (Fakhar), 3-111 (Billings), 4-111 (Ahsan), 5-112 (Raza), 6-178 (Abdullah)

BOWLING: Cottrell 2-0-24-0, Anwar 4-0-46-1 (1w), Ihsanullah 3-0-37-1 (5w), Abbas 4-0-38-0 (1w), Pollard 2-0-18-0 (1w), Usama 3-0-24-3, Khushdil 2-0-11-1

MULTAN SULTANS:

Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Usman Khan b Wiese 18 12 4 0 150.00

Mohammad Rizwan c Wiese b Rashid 34 23 5 0 147.82

Rilee Rossouw b Rashid 52 32 7 2 162.50

Kieron Pollard c Fakhar b Shaheen 19 16 2 0 118.75

Tim David c Wiese b Shaheen 20 16 3 0 125.00

Khushdil Shah run out (Shaheen) 25 12 3 1 208.33

Anwar Ali b Shaheen 1 2 0 0 50.00

Usama Mir c Haris b Shaheen 0 1 0 0 0.00

Abbas Afridi not out 17 6 2 1 283.33

EXTRAS (B-2, LB-7, W-4) 13

TOTAL (for eight wickets, 20 overs) 199

DID NOT BAT: Sheldon Cottrell, Ihsanullah

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-41 (Usman), 2-105 (Rossouw), 3-122 (Rizwan), 4-146 (Pollard), 5-160 (David), 6-166 (Anwar), 7-166 (Usama)

BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-51-4 (2w), Zaman 4-0-33-0, Wiese 4-0-31-1, Rashid 4-0-26-2, Haris 4-0-49-0 (2w)

RESULT: Lahore Qalandars won by one run.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2023

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