ABU DHABI: Lahore Qalandars on Saturday won the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20 Cup, remaining undefeated in the tournament.
The Pakistan Super League (PSL) side shocked South Africa’s Multiply Titans, the favourites for the competition, as they smartly defended a target of 149, including 19 off the last over, to win by 15 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
It is worth mentioning that Qalandars finished bottom of the PSL in each of its first three seasons, while the Titans won the last three Ram Slam events.
Qalandars’ sensational seamer Shaheen Afridi bowled a majestic penultimate over as he conceded only three runs off the bat and bowled key man Heino Kuhn, leaving fellow quick Harris Rauf breathing space in the last. The Titans finished on 133-6.
They recovered from early strife at 10-2 in pursuit, with experienced middle-order batsman Kuhn and Test batsman Theunis de Bruyn hitting 37 apiece.
Earlier, Albie Morkel elected to bowl first, and with disciplined show with the ball and in the field managed to restrict Lahore to 148-6.
Captain Sohail Akhtar, a century-maker against Yorkshire on Thursday, continued his good form with 56 off 47 balls.
Tshepo Moreki’s figures of 3-33 were spoilt by conceding 17 off the 18th when Englishman Phil Salt hit him for successive sixes.
Akhtar and Mohammad Faizan, who hit 32, added 81 in 12 overs for the second wicket to recover from 26-1 in the fourth over.
But then Lahore slipped from 107-1 to 111-4. However, wicketkeeper-batsman Salt added some late impetus with an inventive 26 off 15 balls.
The Titans chances were undermined four balls into their reply when leg-spinner Maaz Khan trapped Tony de Zorzi, playing back, lbw for a golden duck.
The same bowler then forced Henry Davids to chop onto his stumps at the start of the third over as the score fell to 10-2.
Maaz (2-23) bowled his four overs unchanged at the start of the innings and helped build pressure.
De Bruyn added 60 for the third wicket with opener Rivaldo Moonsamy, who helped to steady the ship with 27 before slicing Agha Salman’s off-spin to short third-man as the score fell to 70-3 in the 11th over.
The game remained evenly poised till 18th over when Titans were needed 23 off 12.
But left-armer Afridi, 18-years-old, belied his tender years to expertly nail his yorkers and get the ball reverse swinging before Morkel and Morris failed to get Rauf away, sparking wild celebrations.