The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has made a name for itself as a tournament of close finishes and the final of the eighth edition on Saturday was fit to crown the champion of any trophy.
The tournament came down to one delivery and in the end, Zaman Khan held his nerve and Lahore Qalandars made history to become the first team to successfully defend their PSL title.
History was certain to be made before even a ball was bowled though as Lahore skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi and Multan captain Muhammad Rizwan vied to become the first captain to lift the PSL trophy twice.
Afridi contributed with both bat and ball to ensure he is yet to face elimination as captain, a testament to his leadership and individual ability as well as Lahore’s think tank that surrounded the world’s premium left-arm pacer with a formidable support cast.
In the end, the season boiled down to the final delivery as Zaman defended 13 in the final over and three off the final delivery as Lahore won by one run — the league, the tournament, and the match summed up in chaotic scenes as Multan batsmen scrambled for three and 11 Lahore fielders scurried around to run them out as the panicked screams of a packed Gaddafi Stadium echoed through all of Lahore. It seemed like the toss had taken place eons ago by the time the match finished, but Afridi’s decision to bat first seemed justified as Lahore had gotten off to a solid start. Lahore’s batting had been overly reliant on Fakhar Zaman’s runs during the tournament and it looked like there would be another batting collapse once Fakhar was dismissed by leg-spinner Usama Mir in the 12th over for 39. Rizwan had held back Mir until the 12th over, weary of the ball turning back into the hitting arc of the left-handed Fakhar. That Mir dismissed Fakhar with his first delivery against him, a rank long-hop at that, showed why the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Lahore crumbled from 95-1 to 112-5 as they lost three wickets in four deliveries, spinners Mir and Khushdil Shah wreaking havoc in Lahore’s middle order. Mir’s 3-24 in three overs somewhat justified Rizwan’s decision to hold him back but it also prevented the leggie from having enough to bowl his fourth over before the innings reached the slog overs. And it was in the slog overs that Lahore took the game away from Multan. The Multan bowlers lost the plot and in the chaos, Afridi feasted. The left-hander smashed 44 off only 15 deliveries as Lahore scored 85 in the final over. A raucous partisan Gaddafi echoed with chants of “Afridi, Afridi, Afridi” and the world suddenly seemed 20 years younger. Abdullah Shafique’s knock should also not be discounted and his 65 off 40 held the innings together. Lahore’s bowling attack was easily the tournament’s finest, and it was always going to be an uphill task for Multan to chase down 201, but if any team could do it then it was Rizwan’s men. Rizwan and Rilee Rossouw finished as the tournament’s highest and third-highest scorers with 550 and 453 runs respectively, and the duo combined to deadly effect once again. They were threatening to take the game away from Lahore with the score at 105-1 before Rashid Khan did what he does to dismiss Rossouw for 52 off 32. The South African chopped on a Rashid delivery that kept low and was not overly pleased with the celebration he received from the leg-spinner. Rashid then repeated the trick once again in the next over, dismissing Rizwan for 34 off 22 deliveries as David Wiese took a smart catch on the boundary. Afridi had been smashed all over in his first two overs but came back superbly to claim four wickets in two overs to nullify Multan’s destructive middle order. Abbas Afridi’s incredible 17-run cameo set the stage for a grand finale, but Zaman held his nerve to make Shaheen the league’s most successful captain.
LAHORE: A partisan home crowd at the Gaddafi Stadium had gone quiet as Lahore Qalandars looked to be faltering in another chase. Having lost all four of their matches while batting second this season, the defending champions looked headed for another defeat in Eliminator-2 of Pakistan Super League against Peshawar Zalmi on Friday night.
A spot in Saturday’s final against Multan Sultans beckoning the winner, Qalandars fans had seen the back of top-order lynchpins Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique, their side reduced to 69-3 in their chase of 172. They needed a partnership and it was there that opener Mirza Tahir Baig and Sam Billings combined for a brisk 50-run stand that steadied their innings and helped their fans find their voice.
Tahir had seen his opening partner Fakhar perish trying to go big; bowled by Azmatullah Omarzai in the second over, debutant Ahsan Hafeez depart for 15 when attempting to hit out and only succeeding in getting an edge off Wahab Riaz that was snapped up by keeper Haseebullah Khan. He then played his part in a horrible mix-up that saw Abdullah run out for 10.
Billings could’ve gone early too after a miscommunication with Tahir but he went to his partner and calm things down. From there on, Tahir was more assured, a cut off Wahab that got him a boundary signalling the change in mindset. Billings got his first two boundaries in the next over, the 11th, bowled by Salman Irshad — one of Zalmi’s match-winners in Eliminator-1 against Islamabad United the previous night.
Tahir then drove spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rehman for four over extra cover for four and then bagged consecutive fours off Aamer Jamal before reaching his six with a towering six over fine leg. He was gone next ball, though, attempting a scoop but getting an edge through to Haseeb, for a 42-ball 54 that featured seven fours and two sixes.
But Billings (28) and Sikander Raza (23) ensured the momentum didn’t shift; keeping the scoreboard ticking with singles and twos before the Zimbabwean cracked two boundaries off Aamer in the 16th over to bring the required rate down to almost run-a-ball.
Salman added a twist by beating Billings with a searing yorker and rattling his middle stump only for David Wiese to drill a four off his first ball. In an eventful 18th over, Raza was dropped, hooked his third four before seeing the top of his off-stump hit by Omarzai’s full-toss but skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi knocked off the winning runs with seven balls to spare with a four and a six off consecutive deliveries by Salman for a four-wicket victory.
It meant Mohammad Haris’ majestic 87 went in vain for Zalmi — the youngster blasting 11 fours and two sixes in his 54-ball knock to power his side to 171-5. Qalandars and Sultans will now meet in a rematch of last edition’s final with Shaheen’s side looking to become the first side to successfully defend their title.
Shaheen had sought to take advantage of a pitch that had been covered for most of the day due to rain and his decision to bowl first seemed to have reaped dividends when Zaman Khan cleaned up the dangerous Saim Ayub (10) with a length delivery that swung in late and went through the gate in the second over.
Saim had got two fours off Shaheen in the opening over and first-drop Haris, alongside Babar, ensured Zalmi got at least one boundary in each of the next nine overs; the former delivering a statement of his intent when he scooped Shaheen for a six over fine leg in the pacer’s second over.
There was frustration for Shaheen when Haris was dropped by Fakhar, at full stretch, on mid-off, with the ball going to the boundary and Haris ended the fifth over with a four past third man.
Haris was unrelenting; belting three boundaries in Rashid Khan’s first over — the highlight of them being a scoop down fine leg — before Babar pulled and cut the Afghan spinner as he returned to bowl the 10th.
The 11th over by Ahsan was the first in which no boundaries were struck and paved the way for Rashid to take two wickets in the next over. A googly saw the end of Babar, lbw for a 36-ball 42 which included seven fours and Rashid then got Tom Kohler-Cadmore, holding on to a tame return catch.
It was in Rashid’s final over that saw a 22-ball boundary drought ended by Haris, who launched the Afghan for a six over mid-wicket and get a four down fine leg.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa (25 not out) also got on the act but it was Haris who was playing some stupendous shots; his final four being a standing reverse off Shaheen that came off the back of his bat that flew over third man before he fell in the same over, caught by Fakhar in the deep.
Rajapaksa got his third and fourth boundaries off Haris Rauf in the penultimate over before Zaman dismantled the stumps of Aamer Jamal in the final over, which featured a four of the last ball by Haseebullah that saw Zalmi cross 170. Qalandars, though, were up for a chase this time around.
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Saim Ayub b Zaman 9 5 2 0 180.00
Babar Azam lbw b Rashid 42 36 7 0 116.66
Mohammad Haris c Fakhar b Shaheen 85 54 11 2 157.40
Tom Kohler-Cadmore c & b Rashid 0 2 0 0 0.00
Bhanuka Rajapaksa not out 25 18 4 0 138.88
Aamer Jamal b Zaman 1 3 0 0 33.33
Haseebullah Khan not out 5 2 1 0 250.00
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, W-2) 4
TOTAL (for five wickets, 20 overs) 171
DID NOT BAT: Wahab Riaz, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Salman Irshad
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-15 (Saim), 2-104 (Babar), 3-104 (Kohler-Cadmore), 4-153 (Haris), 5-165 (Aamer)
BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-41-1, Zaman 3-0-20-2, Wiese 3-0-22-0, Rashid 4-0-42-2, Haris 4-0-31-0, Ahsan 2-0-13-0 (2w)
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Mirza Tahir Baig c Haseebullah b Aamer 54 42 7 2 128.57
Fakhar Zaman b Omarzai 6 5 1 0 120.00
Ahsan Hafeez c Haseebullah b Wahab 15 10 2 1 150.00
Abdullah Shafique run out (Babar) 10 10 0 0 100.00
Sam Billings b Salman 28 21 3 0 133.33
Sikandar Raza b Omarzai 23 14 3 0 164.28
David Wiese not out 9 7 1 0 128.57
Shaheen Shah Afridi not out 11 4 1 1 275.00
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-8, W-8) 20
TOTAL (for six wickets, 18.5 overs) 176
DID NOT BAT: Rashid Khan, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-14 (Fakhar), 2-38 (Ahsan), 3-69 (Abdullah), 4-119 (Tahir), 5-147 (Billings), 6-161 (Raza)
LAHORE: The pitch at the Gaddafi Stadium here on Wednesday was tailor-made for the Lahore Qalandars — considered the best bowling unit of the HBL Pakistan Super League. There was movement, bounce and carry, all that the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf would ask for.
But it were the Multan Sultans who made the most of the surface in the league’s Qualifier. After the Sultans batters had put up what eventually proved to be a mature show with the bat to post 160-5 on the board, the Qalandars responded poorly.
Having no answers to brilliant bowling by the Sultans, the side was bundled out for just 76 runs, as the Sultans sealed an 84-run win and a spot in Sunday’s final. The Qalandars will have their second bite at the cherry when they face the winners of the first Eliminator between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi in the second Eliminator on Friday.
Lahore stuttered from the very start as the Sultans’ pacers made early inroads. After pacer Sheldon Cottrell forced an edge off Tahir Baig’s bat for the opener to get caught behind and seamed the ball sharply back into the incoming Abdullah Shafique to trap him lbw, Anwar Ali castled Fakhar Zaman with an in-swinger.
Qalandars captain Shaheen promoted himself up the order once again, only to chip a full toss by Cottrell to find Usman Khan at the cover, leaving the home side reeling at 33-4 by the end of the powerplay.
Hussain Talat and Sam Billings tried to give the Qalandars stability for the next three overs, but all the duo did was just delaying further damage before the former was run out and the incoming Sikandar Raza was caught in the infield off Kieran Pollard in the 10th over, leaving Qalandars in absolute tatters.
Soon after, Billings became pacer Ihsanullah’s first and Sultans’ seventh victim as the Englishman holed out to Cottrell at deep square leg and Rashid Khan followed as he got stumped off Usama Mir’s leg-spin.
MULTAN Sultans batter Kieron Pollard plays a shot during his whirlwind knock of 57.—APP Runs started coming for the Qalandars a bit too late when Haris dispatched Ihsanullah for a six and two fours after David Wiese had slashed Usama through point for a boundary. The tall South African thumped Usama over square-leg for another six in the 14th over but the party was over for him when the spinner trapped him lbw four balls later, effectively wrapping up the proceedings before Abbas Afridi sealed the game for the Sultans with Haris’ wicket. “When your prime batter gets out early, that puts pressure on you,” Shaheen said after the match. “A good catch, a good run-out, can win you the match, and we missed opportunities towards the end of the innings there. “I don’t think the conditions were poor, the ball was swinging nicely and Multan made great use of conditions at the start of our innings.” Earlier, after the Sultans won the toss and opted to bat first, openers Mohammad Rizwan and Usman exercised caution against the new ball before the latter got going and found to find three boundaries off pacer Zaman Khan in the fifth over to boost his team to 46-0 by the end of the powerplay. Multan failing to find boundaries in the next three overs eventually saw Usman improvise against Haris’ slower one in an attempt to break the shackles, only to see his stumps shattered The incoming Rilee Rossouw took on Haris for a straight six over the quick’s head in the 10th over as Multan posted 70-1 at halfway stage. The South African, however, faltered in executing another big hit in the next over to become Zaman’s first wicket. Rizwan followed three overs later, cleaned up by a googly by leg-spinner Rashid as the batter went for a heave through the leg-side. Restricted to 97-3 runs by the end of the 15th over, Multan needed someone to up the ante to hope to post a formidable score. And it were Tim David and Pollard who assumed the responsibility. After David whipped Zaman for a four and a six in the next over, Pollard clobbered Shaheen over midwicket for another six. David was handed a reprieve when Qalandars wicket-keeper Billings dropped him off Haris before Pollard hooked the right-hander for another maximum and slapped him straight down the ground for a boundary. The penultimate over saw Pollard smash Shaheen for three sixes — bringing up his half-century in 31 balls with the second that he clubbed over long-on. The burly Trinidadian whipped the left-armer over a deep square-leg to add six more to the score. Pollard’s (57 off 34) time at the crease was ended by Haris in the final over, which saw the pacer clean him up before castling Khushdil Shah on consecutive deliveries and concede only six runs. “The ball was coming onto the bat early and we wanted to establish a platform,” said Multan captain Rizwan. “But the wicket looked double-paced, and we needed to navigate Lahore’s bowling carefully. “We initially aimed for 170, but by the 15th over, we would also have taken 145-150. But Tim David and Kieron Pollard gave us a few extra runs.” Scoreboard MULTAN SULTANS: Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR Usman Khan b Haris 29 28 4 0 103.57 Mohammad Rizwan b Rashid 33 29 3 0 113.79 Rilee Rossouw c Haris b Zaman 13 12 0 1 108.33 Kieron Pollard b Haris 57 34 1 6 167.64 Tim David not out 22 15 1 1 146.66 Khushdil Shah b Haris 0 1 0 0 0.00 Anwar Ali not out 1 1 0 0 100.00 EXTRAS (LB-1, W-4) 5 TOTAL (for five wickets, 20 overs) 160 DID NOT BAT: Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Sheldon Cottrell, Ihsanullah FALL OF WICKETS: 1-53 (Usman), 2-70 (Rossouw), 3-90 (Rizwan), 4-155 (Pollard), 5-155 (Khushdil) BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-47-0, Zaman 4-0-36-1 (3w), Wiese 4-0-24-0, Rashid 4-0-18-1, Haris 4-0-34-3 (1w) LAHORE QALANDARS: Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR Fakhar Zaman b Anwar 6 7 1 0 85.71 Mirza Tahir Baig c Rizwan b Cottrell 8 9 0 1 88.88 Abdullah Shafique lbw b Cottrell 0 2 0 0 0.00 Sam Billings c Cottrell b Ihsanullah 19 27 1 0 70.37 Shaheen Shah Afridi c Usman b Cottrell 0 2 0 0 0.00 Hussain Talat run out (Usman) 4 10 0 0 40.00 Sikandar Raza c Abbas b Pollard 1 3 0 0 33.33 David Wiese lbw b Usama 12 12 1 1 100.00 Rashid Khan st Rizwan b Usama 0 2 0 0 0.00 Haris Rauf c Rizwan b Abbas 15 13 2 1 115.38 Zaman Khan not out 0 1 0 0 0.00 EXTRAS (B-4, LB-1, NB-1, W-5) 11 TOTAL (all out, 14.3 overs) 76 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-15 (Tahir), 2-15 (Abdullah), 3-19 (Fakhar), 4-28 (Shaheen), 5-41 (Hussain), 6-43 (Raza), 7-49 (Billings), 8-50 (Rashid), 9-76 (Wiese) BOWLING: Cottrell 3-0-20-3 (4w), Anwar 3-0-13-1, Abbas 2.3-0-5-1, Ihsanullah 3-1-18-1 (1nb), Pollard 1-0-3-1, Usama 2-0-12-2 RESULT: Multan Sultans won by 84 runs.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday announced a 15-member squad for a three-match T20 series against Afghanistan with all-rounder Shadab Khan picked to lead the side in the absence of full-time skipper Babar Azam, who has been rested.
PCB Managing Committee head Najam Sethi and Chief Selector Haroon Rashid made the announcement, saying that the squad was finalised keeping in view the team’s future plans.
Shadab Khan (captain)
Mohammad Wasim Junior
The three-match series will be played between March 24 and 27 in Sharjah.
Afghanistan have played Pakistan in three T20 Internationals and four ODIs in multi-national events — without any win so far — but this will be the first bilateral series between the two countries.
The newly-announced squad has four uncapped players, namely, Ihsanullah, Ayub, Tahir and Zaman.
According to the PCB statement, skipper Babar Azam, along with Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi have been rested. Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hasnain and Khushdil Shah also couldn’t make it to the final squad during the selection process.
It is pertinent to mention here that the aforementioned nine players were part of the Pakistan squad that qualified for the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 against England in Australia last year.
Meanwhile, Sethi congratulated Shadab on his new role.
“Shadab Khan has been the Pakistan vice-captain in white-ball cricket for the past couple of years and it is logical that he takes over the side in the absence of Babar Azam for the short three-match T20I tour of Sharjah,” said the PCB high-up.
He also confirmed to journalists that former great Mohammad Yousuf had been retained as batting coach “to ensure continuity” in the upcoming series.
Explaining the rationale behind the new picks, Haroon Rashid said the board followed the standard rotation policy by resting the leading performers and providing high-performing domestic performers with opportunities to demonstrate their talent and potential at the international level.
“This will also allow us to test the temperament and abilities of these players and help us strengthen our pool of players as we look forward to building and preparing a formidable side for next year’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States,” he told a press briefing.
He insisted that the selection committee ensured that it selected a side that was equally strong and capable of winning the series against a strong Afghanistan side.
He said seven players had been retained from the last series to make the squad balanced.
The chief selector said Babar, Fakhar, Haris, Rizwan, and Shaheen had been “provided breaks” from the short Sharjah series to let them complete their rehabilitation.
“This will help them regroup, recompose and recharge their batteries and be fully fit for the challenges in the tough and challenging 2023-24 season,” Rashid noted.
KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti Shooting team has earned a silver medal in the ongoing World Cup championship in Qatar. They secured second place in the mixed category (trap) shooting competition. According to Duaij Al-Otaibi, the head of the Kuwaiti Shooting Sports Club, the team’s success was due to the outstanding performance of shooters Talal Al-Tariqi and Sarah Al-Hawal. He praised their merit in reaching the final and achieving the “big victory”.
Al-Otaibi highlighted the intense competition between the Kuwaiti and American teams, with the result being determined only in the final round. The American team clinched the gold medal, while the Polish team secured third place and won bronze medal. He commended the Kuwaiti shooters’ accomplishments in this challenging tournament and their determination to represent their country in this great sporting event.
Al-Otaibi expressed hope that the team would achieve more favorable outcomes in the upcoming championship competitions. He also affirmed the club’s commitment to supporting Kuwaiti shooters’ participation in such prestigious tournaments to prepare them appropriately for the qualifying tournaments for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
AHMEDABAD: (AP): A tame draw against Australia was enough for India to qualify for the World Test Championship final on Monday, thanks to a more exciting finish in New Zealand. The result in Ahmedabad meant India won the fourtest series 2-1 and reclaimed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which it has held since 2017. That series margin would only put India into the WTC final if Sri Lanka failed to win its two-test series in New Zealand 2-0, and the Kiwis managed to win the first test on the last ball in a thrilling finish at Christchurch.
India’s players pose with the trophy after winning the The Border-Gavaskar test cricket series at the end of the fourth and final cricket test match between India and Australia in Ahmedabad, India. (AP) That means India will face Australia again in the WTC final at the Oval in London from June 7-11. Australia had confirmed its qualification after winning the third test in Indore by nine wickets. India had earlier won the first two tests – in Nagpur by an innings and 132 runs, and in Delhi by six wickets – to maintain its grasp on the series trophy. “It was a fantastic series from the word go,” India captain Rohit Sharma said. “We knew how important it was to start the series (on a winning note). I am also proud of the win in the Delhi test. Different players put their hands up at different times.”
In contrast to the drama at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, Ahmedabad witnessed a sedate day five. At close of play, Australia had reached 175-2 in its second innings. It had scored 480 runs in the first innings, to which India replied with 571. After lunch on day five, Travis Head completed his first half-century on Indian soil off 112 balls. He went on to score 90 runs, facing 163 deliveries in all, with 10 fours and two sixes. Head added 139 runs with Marnus Labuschagne for the second wicket, and their stand was able to nullify India’s first innings’ lead of 91 runs. Labuschagne reached 50 off 150 balls, and finished with 63 not out. Axar Patel (1-36) bowled Head before the tea break to deny his hundred.
Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara came up to bowl as the last hour of play approached, when the players decided to shake hands. Steve Smith finished unbeaten on 10 runs. “The wicket here was too fl at for us to force a result,” said Smith, the stand-in Australia captain. “The spinners have bowled really well throughout.” The fourth test saw four centuries, bucking the spin-friendly trend of this series. Usman Khawaja (180) and Cameron Green (114) headlined the Australian first innings, while Shubman Gill (128) and Virat Kohli (186) propelled the Indian response.
Ashwin took 6-91 in Australia’s first innings. Kohli was named player of the match for scoring his 28th test hundred and breaking a run of 41 test innings without a century, stretching back to November 2019. “I felt I was batting well from the first test,” Kohli said. “I knew if there was an opportunity on a decent wicket, then I can make a big one. I was able to play the way I wanted to play, which was a relief.” Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were named joint players of the series. They finished with 25 and 22 wickets, respectively, with Jadeja also scoring a half-century in the first test. The two sides now will meet in a three-match ODI series starting in Mumbai on March 17.
KABUL: Afghanistan announced on Tuesday it will host Pakistan for three Twenty20 Internationals in Sharjah later this month, the first bilateral series between the neighbours. Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) said their home season will start with the series against Pakistan. “Afghanistan’s international home season 2023-24 will begin with a three-match T20I home series against Pakistan to be played in Sharjah on March 25, 27 and 29,” said a ACB release. Afghanistan was due to start its season with a One-day International series against Australia in March this year but Cricket Australia (CA) refused to play in protest at the treatment of women in the war-torn country. CA had also refused to host Afghanistan for a Test match in November 2021 for the same reason. ACB chairman Mirwais Ashraf welcomed Pakistan’s decision to play his team. “We appreciate Pakistan Cricket Board’s willingness to play Afghanistan in March. This is a significant accomplishment for the two neighbouring countries,” Ashraf said in the statement. Afghanistan have played Pakistan in three T20 Internationals and four ODIs in multi-national events — without any win so far — but this will be the first bilateral series between the two countries. Our Sports Reporter from Lahore adds: Meanwhile, chairman of the PCB Interim Management Committee Najam Sethi welcomed the series. “I am delighted that the inaugural Pakistan versus Afghanistan T20I series will be played later this month in a city that has a large expat community and which has always supported cricketers from both the countries,” a PCB press release quoted Sethi as saying.