Lahore Qalandars are beginning to reap the benefits from their development programme as the PSL franchise booked their place in Saturday’s Abu Dhabi T20 final with a convincing 35-run victory over Hobart Hurricanes.
Qalandars, who fielded a number of players from their programme having scouted Pakistan for promising talent, went into the contest at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday knowing a triumph would see them advance from their group.
That was down largely to captain Sohail Akhtar’s century in the six-wicket win against Yorkshire Vikings on Thursday.
However, there was no repeat from the opening batsman as he fell for 37 although Mohammad Faizan’s half-century saw them reach a competitive 181-6 in their 20 overs.
In their chase, Big Bash League’s Hurricanes made a rapid start with 58 runs after eight overs. But leg-spinner Farzan Raja, who was spotted by Qalandars, was a constant threat for their batsmen and the 23-year-old finished the game as the stand-out bowler with 4-24. Skipper Charlie Wakim top-scored with 43 for Hurricanes, who ended the innings on 146-8.
All the praise was for Raja and the bowler credited head coach Aaqib Javed for showing belief in him.
#ManOfTheMatch Farzan Raja from the @lahoreqalandars had an excellent bowling spell at #ZayedCricketStadium this afternoon. His 4-wicket wonder helped the winning squad restrict the @HurricanesBBL in the second innings. #AbuDhabiT20 #HHvBD pic.twitter.com/hNyJNKOk5F— Abu Dhabi Cricket (@AbuDhabiCricket) October 5, 2018
“It was an amazing game and I want to congratulate Hobart Hurricanes as they played very good cricket,” he said. “I am very happy with my performance as the ball was turning a bit. Aaqib (Javed) said I just have to have contain wickets and not try to take wickets. In T20 cricket, containing bowling is very important and that is what I did.”
Mitchell McClenaghan, one of the most experienced members for Qalandars, believes the result proves that the programme can open doors for aspiring cricketers who have not been noticed.
“It’s great for the Raja family and the whole of the Qalandars organisation that there’s some return for the effort that’s been put into the development programme over the last three or four years,” said the 32-year-old New Zealand fast-bowler.
“It’s nice to see some young cricketers come through and win a couple of games. It’s been a long time coming. Raja was fantastic today. Last night I thought he was really good against Yorkshire, but unfortunately there were three or four balls which went through legs here and there, so his economy didn’t show how well he bowled.”
For Wakim, the 27-year-old lamented his side’s batting performance. “We gave away 20 runs too many but we did back ourselves to chase it,” he said. “I think we set a decent total to chase but we lost wickets in the 12th over when we needed to accelerate.”
Meanwhile, Tony de Zorzi smashed an unbeaten century as Multiply Titans thrashed Boost Defenders by 50 runs in the late game.
De Zorzi hit 106no off 57 balls as the South African outfit posted an imposing total of 218-3.
The opener was well supported by Chris Morris, who contributed with 46. In reply, Defenders reached 168-8 with Colin Ingram scoring 51.
Titans can reach the final if they beat Auckland Aces today.
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