Shaheen Afridi’s all-round heroics win Lahore Qalandars second straight HBL PSL title

LAHORE: Lahore Qalandars became the first team to defend HBL Pakistan Super League title as they defeated Multan Sultans by only one run in a thrilling HBL PSL 8 final at the Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday. The victory was engineered by their captain Shaheen Afridi’s blasting 15-ball 44 not out and an incredible spell of death bowling that saw him return overall figures of four for 51.

Multan Sultans needed 13 runs in the final over, bowled by Lahore Qalandars’ last over specialist Zaman Khan. The equation had come down to four off the last ball, and Multan Sultans could get only two of a  Khushdil Shah mishit before he was run out at the non-striker’s end.

The match had swung like a pendulum in the last five overs as Multan Sultans needed 60 with seven wickets in hand. Shaheen removed Kieron Pollard with a cutter after being whipped for a four in the 16th over that cost 11.

Haris Rauf allowed only eight in the next over. Shaheen returned to deliver one of the best overs in death as he picked up three wickets and gave away only six runs to further complicate the matters for Multan Sultans. Shaheen’s first two overs, bowled in the Powerplay, had leaked 34 runs, but the left-arm pacer made his experience count at death and took four wickets for 17 runs in his final two overs.

Khushdil Shah and Abbas Afridi, however, punched their way back in the match in the penultimate over by spanking Haris for 22. The over began with Khushdil dispatching the fast bowler for a six over his head and two balls later Abbas smoked him for a maximum over deep midwicket and followed it up with back-to-back fours.

Multan Sultans were set 201 to win their second HBL PSL title and they were provided a rock solid start by the top-order. Usman Khan (18 off 12) and Mohammad Rizwan (34 off 23) raced to 41 before the former was bowled by David Wiese at 3.3 overs mark.

Shaheen came under attack from the onset of the run chase as he was hit for seven fours in his first two overs – the first and third of the innings.

Rilee Rossouw produced an entertaining half-century, spanking seven fours and two sixes in his 32-ball 52, but what stood out in his innings was how he ensured that the run rate never died down with Rizwan playing a supporting role. The pair added 64 runs for the second wicket, before Rashid Khan took two wickets in two overs to unravel the run chase.

Rossouw was bowled in the 11th over and Rizwan was caught by Wiese in the 13th that brought two new batters in Pollard (19 off 16) and Tim David (20 off 16) on strike.

Lahore Qalandars made 200 for six after electing to bat thanks to sparkling half-century by Abdullah Shafique and a late blitz from their captain Shaheen Afridi. Lahore Qalandars were off to a solid start with Mirza Tahir Baig unleashing exquisite shots around the dial. The right-handed opener dispatched Sheldon Cottrell, the star of the Qualifier, for a four and a six in the first over and then stole three fours in the third over.

But, the timely introduction of Ihsanullah by Mohammad Rizwan cut short Tahir’s stay at the crease as he was undone by a rapid bouncer on the last ball of the fifth over.

Abdullah, who made 40-ball 65 and hit eight fours and two sixes, added 57 runs for the second wicket with Fakhar Zaman. The left-hander scored 39 off 34 with four fours and a six, before he fell to Usama Mir in the leg-spinner’s first over and the 12th of the innings.

Usama’s next over sent shockwaves in Lahore Qalandars camp as the leg-spinner accounted for Sam Billings (nine off eight) and Ahsan Hafeez Bhatti (0 off one) in consecutive balls and their troubles amplified at the start of the next over when Khushdil Shah bowled Sikandar Raza (one off two) as Lahore Qalandars lost three wickets for one run.

What followed next was an excellent recovery from Shaheen and Abdullah as the pair added 66 runs off just 27 balls. Shaheen smashed five sixes and two fours and the first of those maximums came in the 16th over when he smashed Usama down the ground. Abdullah followed it up with a four as the two gathered 14 runs from it.

But, it was the next over, which turned out to be the most expensive of the innings, that proved to be innings defining. Shaheen smoked Ihsanullah for a two sixes and a four that added 24 to the total.

Abdullah then spanked four fours and a six in six balls spanned across the end of the 18th and start of the 19th overs before he was caught at deep third man. The second four bringing up his half-century.

Shaheen made sure to make the most of the over and spanked Anwar down the ground as the penultimate over brought 22 runs for Lahore Qalandars. It had begun with Abdullah smashing Anwar over his head for a six.

The final over also brought bucket load of runs as Shaheen smoked Abbas Afridi for a four and a six.

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