Lahore Qalandars got their first win of PSL 2018 when they stunned league leaders Multan Sultans by six wickets on Friday night at Dubai International Stadium.
Here are the three key points from the match:
Shaheen Afridi takes centre stage
The 17-year-old pacer had already been earmarked as one for the future by Lahore Qalandars coach Aaqib Javed before the tournament and you only have to look at Friday’s performance to see why. The youngster has endured a frustrating start to his first PSL, going wicketless in his previous three matches but that run finally ended in some style.
Multan Sultans seemed to be on course to post an imposing total, as at one point they were on 91-2. But Afridi rattled the batting order with two magical overs that left spectators at Dubai International Stadium in awe. His second over saw him rewarded with three key wickets in four balls – Shoaib Malik, Ross Whiteley and Saif Badar. He then wrapped up the innings with two wickets in consecutive deliveries as he produced overall figures of 5-4 in 3.4 overs.
A new batting position for Brendon McCullum?
For years, we have seen the former New Zealand batsman create havoc for the bowlers as an opening batsman. But in Lahore’s last two matches, McCullum has come down the batting order at No.5. In Thursday’s defeat to Islamabad United, he scored an unbeaten 33 and again against Multan Sultans was also effective with the bat.
When runs are needed at the death as shown when Lahore needed 17 from 18 balls, teams need batsmen to keep their cool and deal with the pressure. With 16 years of experience behind him in a career that has seen him play Tests, ODIs, T20I and major T20 competitions, McCullum certainly falls into the category. Fortunately for Lahore, McCullum was at the crease on Friday and he duly delivered when it mattered, hitting the winning boundary in his unbeaten knock of 35 to seal their first win.
With him being effective in the middle-order, expect him to continue in that position for the remainder of the competition.
Reality check for Multan Sultans
After a promising start for the tournament debutants, Tom Moody’s side have now suffered back-to-back defeats. On paper, the fixture against Lahore looked like the perfect game for them to bounce back from their defeat to Quetta Gladiators on Wednesday. They were on course to do so early on in their innings but were later stunned by Lahore. They are still top of the standings for now but Moody and the rest of the players cannot afford to drop their game going into the business end of the tournament.
There was finally something to celebrate for Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League. After six consecutive defeats, they won their first game of the competition by a stunning six wickets over league leaders Multan Sultans.
But there was one man who stole the show for Lahore and his name is Shaheen Afridi. After going wicketless for three matches, Afridi finally got his first scalps of the tournament – a five-wicket haul.
The 17-year-old left-armer was sensational for the bottom side with figures of 5-4 and that feat is even more remarkable considering he didn’t even bowl his full quota of four overs.
Here we analyse his performance of the six-wicket victory on Friday evening.
OVERS BOWLED: 3.4
RUNS CONCEDED: 4
30-SECOND REPORT AND KEY MOMENTS
The 17-year-old pacer had already been earmarked as one for the future by Lahore Qalandars’ coach Aaqib Javed before a ball was even bowled and on Friday evening, he left everyone in awe at Dubai International Stadium after his sensational bowling.
He was made to wait until the 13th over (later revealing it was part of a plan) but made a big impression every time he was on to bowl. His swing and reverse ball caused problems for Multan and Shoaib Malik, Ross Whiteley and Saif Badar all got a first-hand view of what damage he can do after taking three wickets in four balls.
It got better for Lahore’s new star, wrapping up the innings with the dismissals of Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan in consecutive deliveries.
Despite being frustrated with his efforts in his previous three games, Afridi was consistent with the ball, containing the batsmen who were unable to get a boundary off any of his deliveries. His in-swinging yorkers also proved to be a challenge for Multan.
As far as PSL individual performances go, this display is definitely up there among the best. It was only a matter of time before he delivered and he did so in remarkable style. It was even more special considering it saw Lahore end their losing six-match run for their first win of this year’s PSL.
WHAT AFRIDI THOUGHT OF HIS PERFORMANCE:
“I said on the bus while coming to the stadium that I would take five wickets and it looks like Allah heard my prayers. It’s a very good feeling to get the five wickets and more importantly the win. Before (the tournament), I had never played T20 cricket, not even at club level, so to be playing on a big stage is a special moment for me.”
Speaking to the media after the loss, the 36-year-old said: “Ultimately as captain you’re responsible for the performances. I feel like I’ve done the same things that I do in any team that I’ve led, but unfortunately that hasn’t resonated.”
“So that’s the question we’ve got to ask tonight as well – whether it’s better offloading it to someone else and seeing if we can get better results.
“Doesn’t matter if you’re saying the right things, but if they’re not hitting home or the instructions aren’t being followed, then you’re always going to be pushing it uphill.”
A splendid unbeaten cameo of 33 runs from just 12 deliveries by the skipper had helped the Qalandars amass 163-8 in their 20 overs after batting first.
However, McCullum’s New Zealand counterpart Luke Ronchi’s 41-ball 77 saw Islamabad romp to a comfortable victory with more than two overs to spare.
McCullum insisted that the cause of defeat had been solely down to his bowlers and not the batting.
“I thought it was a very, very good batting performance, set up by Anton Devcich in his first game, and he showed how hungry, competitive people are able to prosper,” he said.
“What we did after that, I was really disappointed with, to be honest. It’s not what we’re about and I don’t mind losing, but you expect to be hard to beat. We’ve got some questions to ask tonight and that’s all the way through.”
With the Lahore out of contention for the eliminators with no points from their six games, the skipper believes a change of guard could be beneficial to the side.
“I don’t know what that is. It’s very hard on the support staff to prepare a team if guys aren’t prepared to listen, but if that’s the case, then we’re going to have to keep making changes, because there are young, enthusiastic guys in our team, which may be an opportunity, especially now since we’re out of the competition.” he said.