LAHORE: Defending champions Lahore Qalandars staged a magnificent recovery from 50 for 7 to win by 17 runs at Gaddafi Stadium and keep Quetta Gladiators rooted to the bottom of the PSL table. Sikandar Raza was their hero with the bat, smashing an unbeaten 71 from 34 balls, before the Qalandars attack recovered from a poor start to comprehensively throttle the chase, led by Haris Rauf’s 3 for 22. By the end, they laid claim to the record of joint-lowest total (148) successfully defended in a PSL match in Pakistan.
Qalandars were in deep trouble after being inserted, but were given something to bowl at by Raza’s first PSL half-century. The Zimbabwe allrounder struck eight fours and three sixes in a stunning counterattack, putting on an eighth-wicket stand worth 69 off 6.3 overs with Rashid Khan and helping to set Gladiators a target of 149 despite being bowled out early.
Gladiators were seemingly cruising as they reached 53 for 1, with Yasir Khan falling to Rauf from the last ball of the powerplay. Will Smeed had struck six crisp fours in 32 off 25 balls to help get his side ahead of the asking rate, but after he fell lbw to Rashid in the seventh over, Gladiators began a slow-motion collapse that saw them add 11 runs in five overs while losing three wickets.
It got worse for Gladiators when Martin Guptill launched David Wiese down the throat of deep midwicket, with the required rate crossing 10 per over. Odean Smith and Mohammad Nawaz were dismissed by Rauf as the home side took control, conceding just five boundaries in the second half of the innings and ensuring the victory was all but secure with an over to spare.
For the first quarter of the match, it seemed nailed on that the Lahore fans would go home disappointed. Qalandars lost a wicket in the opening over of their innings, Umaid Asif marking his Gladiators debut with a direct hit that caught Fakhar Zaman short; Umaid’s night then got better when he struck with his third ball, taking a simple return catch after Mirza Baig top-edged a pull. Naveen-ul-Haq struck twice in as many overs as Qalandars limped to 29 for 4 at the end of the powerplay.
Qalandars’ attempts to disrupt the flow involved sending the captain, Shaheen Shah Afridi, out at No. 6 – he had never previously batted higher than No. 8 in a T20. It was a partial (and relative) success, as he outscored the rest of the top six with 16 off 16, before running himself out looking for a non-existent single in the ninth over. With Abdullah Shafique and Wiese falling to Nawaz either side of Shaheen’s dismissal, Qalandars were seven down at halfway.
But Raza hit his sixth ball, from Nawaz, for six, added another in the next over from Umaid, hit Naveen for three fours in five balls and took a brace of boundaries off Naseem Shah as the recovery partnership swelled past 50. Even with Raza’s efforts, Qalandars were unable to bat their full 20 overs – but it turned out the league leaders had more than enough for a fifth win in six. (Cricinfo)