LAHORE: A dream realised with the title they had long sustained for. Eventually, everything came together just impeccably for Lahore Qalandars.
In front of their oral home suckers, the Qalandars lifted their demoiselle HBL Pakistan Super League title on Sunday when they excelled defending titleholders Multan Sultans at the Gaddafi Stadium.
They were so effective, so ruthless that they had the match all but wrapped up by the 11th over of the Sultans’innings. Having transferred half of Sultans’ fur line-up back to the unker by also, it was a question also of by how much the Qalandars would win.
Eventually it was by 42 runs as the Sultans were sailed out for 138 with two balls to spare in their chase of 181.
Having been part of the PSL since its commencement, it took the Qalandars seven times to eventually get their hands on the jewel. And it came in Shaheen Shah Afridi’s first season as the ballot’s captain.
“ It was a delicate decision for me to take up the captaincy, and it was a challenge,” Shaheen said before lifting the jewel grandly into the night sky. “ But I was backed by the elderly players. Our platoon fought from the first day and till the last ball.”
Tests are won by brigades whose players rise to the occasion. Backed on by a capacity crowd, Qalandars’ players turned up. Sultans, who ’d finished top of the league standings ahead of the Qalandars and were looking to be the first reprise winners of the PSL, went missing.
After the Qalandars were rocked beforehand on after choosing to club, stager Mohammad Hafeez anchored their innings with a magnific 69 before furnishing them with two pivotal improvements with the ball. Harry Brook powered them with a 22-ball 41 not out. David Wiese, the idol of their palm over Islamabad United in Friday’s eliminator, hit an inestimable 28 not out off eight deliveries.
Hafeez was n’t the only Qalandars’bowler who impressed. Shaheen got three lattices to finish as the event’s top bowler with 21. Youth Zaman Khan minced in with two lattices. Fakhar Zaman, the event’s leading run- arranger, had an out- day with the club but bettered in the field including a bulls- eye gamble to run out Sultans’ nature Shan Masood.
It was that run out that veritably well listed the balance of the game in Qalandars’ favour.
After a brisk launch, Sultans’talismanic captain Mohammad Rizwan (14) was gutted up by Hafeez and he was followed by his opening mate six balls latterly when Shan failed to return to his crinkle after being turned back by Aamer Azmat.
Azmat was the coming to go with Fakhar holding onto a superb catch while running backwards to give Hafeez his alternate gate.
Zaman, the event’s arising player, also rattled Asif Afridi’s wholes with a perfect knife before he picked the prized gate of Rilee Rossouw (15) to leave the Sultans at 63-5.
With the asking rate climbing, Sultans’hopes rested on the big- hitting brace of Tim David (27) and Khushdil Shah (32). They participated a 51- run stage for the sixth gate but it only delayed the ineluctable.
When David drilled out Shaheen to Fakhar on the first ball of the 17th over, it was the morning of the end. Shaheen’s perfect yorker rattled into David Willey’s wholes. Haris did the same to Khushdil’s wholes as the Sultans’batter tried to lade him before.
Another yorker from Shaheen traduced tailender Rumman Raees’defence before Wiese sealed the title for Qalandars when he’d Imran Tahir caught.
“ We’ve plodded to get the jewel but eventually everything came together for us,” Hafeez said after being given the man-of-the- match award. “ The mindset and vision have helped us win then.”
On his innings, he added “ It was important to absorb pressure and the cooperation between me and Brook helped before Wiese finished it off well.”
Hafeez had arrived at the crinkle in the fifth over with the Qalandars in trouble at 26-3.
Fakhar had decomposed trying to slog- sweep Asif, Zeeshan Ashraf edged Willey’s outswinger to Rizwan before Asif had Abdullah Shafique stumped. All that happed in a space of 11 deliveries to put Sultans on top.
Hafeez, still, took no time to hit back. Rumman was wrapped through the off side for three boundaries in the sixth over, icing Qalandars finished the powerplay with 41 on the board.
Also after two low-scoring overs, he took on Khushdil. A six back over the bowler’s head brought up Qalandars’fifty and Hafeez also pulled him down for a four.
While Hafeez was getting runs — and boundaries, Kamran Ghulam (15) was having a tough time in the middle and fell trying to hit Asif with Shan and David combining dashingly on the hedge to complete the catch.
The incoming Brook took his time to settle as Hafeez continued to find the boundaries but the Qalandars were still toiling for runs, reaching 113 with four overs to go.
Also came the rush from Brook. Rumman was placed for four through short fine leg on the first ball of the 17th over, which ended with two towering sixes over deep midwicket and long- on.
Hafeez started the coming over by fluttering Shahnawaz Dahani for a four but was gone next ball, caught at cover by Shan.
That gave Sultans some respite. But it did n’t last long as Willey and Shahnawaz were hit for a combined 40 runs in the last two overs.
Wiese started and finished off the penultimate over with sixes off Willey with Brook getting another in between. And after Brook hit Shahnawaz for a four off the first ball of the final over, Wiese assured Qalandars finished their innings on a high with a launched shot for six over long out and a top edge that flew for a boundary.
Wiese it was who sparked Qalandars’ fests in the end when he picked up Sultans’ last gate to fall.
Qalandars were the only platoon who had beaten Sultans during the league stage. That bone did n’t matter important. This one, still, did.
“ The fact that we were the only platoon to have beat Multan gave us confidence,” said Wiese. “ We knew that the final was one out and we knew we could win it. We enjoyed ourselves and are thrilled to have won.”