RAWALPINDI: It was a sensational 68 in 36 balls from Saim Ayub and a solid 41-ball 50 from Babar Azam that helped Peshawar Zalmi beat table-toppers Lahore Qalandars by 35 runs at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in match 23 of the HBL Pakistan Super League 8.
This was Peshawar Zalmi’s fourth win in seven matches and it has extinguished Karachi Kings’ hopes of Playoff qualification as all top four teams have at least eight points now. The maximum that the Imad Wasim’s side can manage are six points, considering they win their last game on 12 March against Lahore Qalandars.
Left-hander Saim recorded his third half-century of the edition after being promoted to the top of the order. He smashed eight fours and three sixes in an innings defined by gorgeous stroke making. The 20-year-old made the most of the field restrictions in the first six overs, scoring 43 in 24 balls that propelled Peshawar Zalmi to 67 by the end of the Powerplay.
Babar, his captain, played the supporting role and the pair recorded a sparkling 107-run opening partnership. The two were separated in the 11th over when Saim fell to Rashid Khan. The leg-spinner added another wicket to his tally in his next over by deceiving Mohammad Haris who top-edged a sweep to Sikandar Raza.
Peshawar Zalmi looked set to post a massive total with a hard-hitting middle-order given a platform to cut loose, but Lahore Qalandars made a decent comeback in the death overs, especially after Babar’s wicket in the 16th over. They could add only 36 runs in the last over fours and lost seven wickets, four of which were taken by Shaheen Afridi, and were bowled out for 207 with three balls left in the innings.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore scored a quickfire 16-ball 36 with three sixes and two fours before being sent back in the 18th over by Haris Rauf. Shaheen finished with four for 31 and Haris, Zaman Khan and Rashid took two wickets each.
Lahore Qalandars’ run chase was heavily dented in the Powerplay. Wahab Riaz showed why he is the most successful HBL PSL bowler when he delivered a double-wicket maiden. The left-arm pacer dismissed Fakhar Zaman and Sam Billings on consecutive deliveries in the fifth over. Abdullah Shafique mistimed the ball for Rovman Powell to take a fabulous catch at mid-off in the next over as Lahore Qalandars found themselves four down for 21. Shawaiz Irfan, marking his debut for Lahore Qalandars, played on off Arshad Iqbal in the first over.
Hussain Talat and Shaheen provided some consolation fireworks for the Lahore Qalandars fans in their 114-run partnership off 65 balls. Shaheen struck five sixes and three fours in his 36-ball 52 before getting caught behind off Wahab.
That dismissal brought Sikandar at the crease who whipped the left-arm pacer for a four on the first ball and dispatched him for a six on the next. Sikandar would make 20 off seven before getting dismissed on the last ball of the 18th. Hussain fell in the 19th to Arshad after making 63 off 37 and smashing five sixes and four fours.
Lahore Qalandars were bowled out for 172 with two balls spare. Arshad and Wahab finished with three wickets each for 27 and 17 runs, and Azamatullah Omarzai returned two for 40.
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