HBL PSL 2024: Naveen holds nerve as Zalmi edge Sultans in thriller

Published February 24, 2024
PESHAWAR Zalmi batter Rovman Powell plays a shot as Multan Sultans skipper Mohammad Rizwan watches during their match at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Friday.—APP
PESHAWAR Zalmi batter Rovman Powell plays a shot as Multan Sultans skipper Mohammad Rizwan watches during their match at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Friday.—APP

MULTAN: Under immense pressure, Naveen-ul-Haq kept his nerve and brought relief to Babar Azam’s Peshawar Zalmi at last.

In a game that had seemed to have drifted away from them, the Afghanistan pacer picked two wickets off the last two balls, including the crucial scalp of the hard-hitting Iftikhar Ahmed, to earn Zalmi a tense five-run victory over Multan Sultans; their first in this season of the HBL Pakistan Super League.

Needing 22 runs to win with two wickets in hand in the final over at the Multan Cricket Stadium, the Sultans, chasing 180, had rested their hopes on Iftikhar, who had wrapped up a third straight win for his side two nights ago, with a flurry of big hits.

Iftikhar almost did it again; thumping a boundary off the second ball of the over, then getting a four over fine leg and a six straight down the ground on the next two deliveries.

With Naveen having also bowled two wides, it brought the equation down to six required off the last two balls and Iftikhar primed to finish.

But Naveed had Iftikhar caught behind with the penultimate delivery and then cleaned up last man Shahnawaz Dahani to spark Zalmi’s celebrations.

Zalmi’s batters, notably Haseebullah Khan (37), Babar (31) and Rovman Powell (23), got starts but they kept losing wickets at regular intervals to post 179-8 after electing to bat.

On the first delivery he faced, Babar cracked Mohammad Ali for four through the offside and then swatted away PSL’s leading wicket-taker for another boundary.

Babar welcomed Dahani by pulling him away for four to start the fourth over but he lost his opening partner Saim Ayub soon after, the left-hander finding Reeza Hendricks on the legside boundary.

The former Pakistan captain, who hit a half-century each in Zalmi’s first couple of matches, was dealing in fours, though, guiding Abbas Afridi to the deep backward square fence and then driving him down the ground for another.

Haseeb had watched Babar from the other end in the previous over and used Dahani’s pace to put him away for his first boundary on the second ball he faced and ended the over with another four, this time over backward point, as Zalmi finished the powerplay at 46-1.

The 20-year-old Haseeb then unleashed his full repertoire of shots; reverse-sweeping Usama Mir for four before sweeping Iftikhar for two sixes in the eighth over. Babar tried to go the same route off Usama in the following over, only to see his off-stump knocked back.

Haseeb continued in the same vein; slashing Usama away to the cover boundary but the leg-spinner hit back in his following over, hitting the top of the left-hander’s middle stump as he tried to go big.

Debutant Paul Walter announced himself to the PSL with a brief but entertaining 16-run knock; the left-hander getting consecutive boundaries on both sides of the pitch before he wacked Abbas high over deep midwicket for a monstrous six until he was undone by compatriot David Willey, who had him caught at deep-mid wicket.

Powell paddle-swept and cut Usama for consecutive fours soon after coming to the crease and then saw his partner Mohammad Haris (19) pull Ali straight to Usama at square leg.

The West Indian hit Willey out of the park for a six but departed on the next ball, caught at long-on, with Zalmi seeing another power-hitter depart 10 balls later when Ali trapped Asif Ali lbw.

Luke Wood (17 not out) hit a six and a four in the last over as Zalmi finished with a flourish. He then silenced a packed stadium, rooting for the home side, when he induced an edge off Sultans’ captain and batting mainstay Mohammad Rizwan which was grasped by Mohammad Haris behind the stumps.

Yasir Khan, promoted as opener for the match, stepped up to stabilise the chase. Flicking, pulling and using his wrists to find the boundary with ease, the 21-year-old thwarted Zalmi’s attempts of further breakthroughs. However, it was a case of one pull too many for him as he fell for 43 with Salman Irshad getting him caught behind with a ball that stayed low.

The Sultans still needed 115 to win off the last 10 overs and Zalmi were up in celebration again when debutant spinner Arif Yaqoob rapped Dawid Malan on the pads and the umpire raised his finger. Malan reviewed and the decision was reversed.

Malan, who had gone without scoring in the last two matches, made the most of it when he pulled Salman for a flat six and then drove him over cover for four two balls later. The left-hander then lifted Arif for a six to end the 13th over, where the Sultans brought up their 100.

Malan brought up his half-century with another flat six over deep mid-wicket but his 25-ball blitz soon came to an end when towering Englishman Walter had his compatriot caught in the deep for 52.

The Sultans needed 56 off the last five and were dealt a blow when Salman cleaned up Hendricks (28) with a searing yorker.

In an eventful 17th over, Arif accounted for Khushdil Shah before being hit by back-to-back sixes by the incoming Usama, who was caught in the deep in his attempt to go for a third. Dan Mousley then produced a spectacular catch on the rope to see the end of Willey off the last ball, the substitute fielder pulling the ball back before leaping with perfect timing to catch it cleanly.

Abbas cracked consecutive boundaries in the following over but Wood returned to have him caught with the first ball of the 19th before the late drama.



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

Saim Ayub c Hendricks b Dahani 7 11 1 0 63.63

Babar Azam b Usama 31 26 5 0 119.23

Haseebullah Khan b Usama 37 18 4 2 205.55

Mohammad Haris c Usama b Ali 19 19 1 0 100.00

Paul Walter c Yasir b Willey 16 8 2 1 200.00

Rovman Powell c Iftikhar b Willey 23 11 3 1 209.09

Asif Ali lbw b Ali 13 10 2 0 130.00

Luke Wood not out 17 12 1 1 141.66

Naveen-ul-Haq c&b Abbas 6 4 1 0 150.00

Arif Yaqoob not out 1 1 0 0 100.00

EXTRAS (LB-1, W-8) 9

TOTAL (for eight wickets, 20 overs) 179

DID NOT BAT: Salman Irshad

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-26 (Saim), 2-72 (Babar), 3-85 (Haseebullah), 4-114 (Walter), 5-128 (Haris), 6-150 (Powell), 7-159 (Asif), 8-166 (Naveen)

BOWLING: Willey 4-0-28-2 (5w), Ali 4-0-23-2, Dahani 3-0-26-1 (1w), Abbas 4-0-48-1 (1w), Usama 4-0-36-2 (1w), Iftikhar 1-0-17-0


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

Yasir Khan c Haris b Salman 43 37 6 0 116.21

Mohammad Rizwan c Haris b Wood 0 3 0 0 0.00

Reeza Hendricks b Salman 28 27 2 0 103.70

Dawid Malan c sub (Mousley) b Walter 52 25 3 3 208.00

Khushdil Shah c Saim b Arif 5 5 0 0 100.00

Iftikhar Ahmed c Haris b Naveen 16 8 2 1 200.00

Usama Mir c Walter b Arif 2 3 0 2 400.00

David Willey c sub (Mousley) b Arif 0 1 0 0 0.00

Abbas Afridi c Saim b Wood 11 6 2 0 183.33

Mohammad Ali not out 1 4 0 0 25.00

Shahnawaz Dahani b Naveen 0 1 0 0 0.00

EXTRAS (W-6) 6

TOTAL (all out, 20 overs) 174

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-7 (Rizwan), 2-52 (Yasir), 3-122 (Malan), 4-129 (Hendricks), 5-132 (Khushdil), 6-144 (Usama), 7-144 (Willey), 8-156 (Abbas), 9-174 (Iftikhar)

BOWLING: Wood 4-0-13-2, Naveen 4-0-44-2 (2w), Walter 4-0-35-1 (1w), Arif 4-0-43-3, Salman 4-0-39-2 (3w)

RESULT: Peshawar Zalmi won by five runs.


Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2024



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