LAHORE: Lahore Qalandars successfully chased a target for the first time in this edition, thanks to Mirza Tahir Baig’s 42-ball in 54 and useful middle-order contributions from Sam Billings (28 off 21) and Sikandar Raza (23 off 14), to book a spot in the final. The defending champions overhauled the target of 172 with four wickets and seven balls spare against Peshawar Zalmi in Eliminator 2 at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday night and will play Multan Sultans in the final of the HBL Pakistan Super League 8 on Saturday.
Lahore Qalandars lost their most experienced player in Fakhar Zaman (six off five) in only the second over, but Tahir made sure that his side never got under pressure. The right-hander stitched crucial partnerships worth 24 with debutant Ahsan Hafeez Bhatti (15 off 10), 31 with Abdullah Shafique (10 off 10) and 50 with Billings over the course of his maiden HBL PSL half-century. Tahir struck seven fours and two sixes.
After his dismissal, Billings and Sikandar made their experience count by adding 28 runs in a steady partnership to ensure Peshawar Zalmi bowlers could not bounce back, as they did last night against Islamabad United. The two batters fell in the 17th and 18th overs but they had done enough to make sure that their team went over the line. The finishing touches came off Shaheen Afridi’s bat as the Lahore Qalandars skipper struck a four and a six to take his side over the line.
The first half of the match was dominated by Mohammad Haris’ breath-taking strokeplay. The young attacking top-order batter smashed 85 off 54, which included 11 fours and two sixes, after arriving at the crease in only the second over.
Haris put up an 89-run partnership with his captain Babar Azam, who missed what would have been his HBL PSL 8’s sixth half-century by eight runs, to lay a perfect platform for a big total. But, Rashid Khan’s double strikes in the 12th over that sent back Babar (42 off 36) and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (0 off two) brought down the scoring rate and after that no batter fired as Peshawar Zalmi would have hoped.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa made 25 not out off 18 and Haris added 49 runs with the Sri Lankan before he was dismissed on the last ball of the 18th.
Zaman Khan picked up Peshawar Zalmi’s first and last wicket as he bowled both Saim Ayub (nine off five) and Aamir Jamal (one off three) in the first and last overs to return two for 20 off three. Rashid returned two for 42 from four.
The two finalists – Multan Sultans and Lahore Qalandars – will take on for the fourth time in this edition. In the previous three encounters, Lahore Qalandars have come out victorious twice, while Multan Sultans defeated them in the most recent match, the Qualifier, which was played on Wednesday.
Lahore Qalandars had defeated Multan Sultans last year to lift the HBL PSL 7 title.