Multan Sultans star all-rounder and Pakistan legend Shahid Afridi ended the PSL 2019 campaign on a high with a brilliant display with the ball in a big win over Lahore Qalandars in Karachi on Monday and then quashed rumours over his PSL retirement, stating he will play next year.
Both Multan and Lahore were out of the playoff race even before the match began so there was not a lot at stake as such. Even so, players in both teams would have wanted to finish the campaign on a positive note and it was Multan who came out on top, restricting Lahore to 140-8 and chasing down the runs with seven wickets and 45 balls in hand.
Afridi was the pick of the bowlers for Multan, picking up 2-18 from his four overs. Also, he was the one who hit the winning runs in the chase.
Afridi was in the news for another reason as he jumped the boundary hoardings and did a lap of the National Stadium, greeting fans and acknowledging their cheers.
It was seen as a lap of honour in possibly his final PSL game since Afridi had been struggling with knee problems for more than a season. However, after the match Multan captain Shoaib Malik clarified it was not the last PSL match for Afridi and added the lap of honour was just to “please the crowd”.
“I wish he plays more and more,” Malik was quoted as saying.
Afridi himself cleared the air over the situation, stating he will play in PSL next year. “I haven’t left cricket, I am still playing. I don’t know who I will play for next year but I will surely play,” Afridi was quoted as saying.
Having missed the chance to qualify for the play-offs, the two bottom sides were due to do battle in what was a dead rubber but Lahore failed to put up much of a fight, gifting their opponents the opportunity to sign off in style with a seven wicket win and 45 deliveries to spare, chasing a target of 141.
Shoaib Malik won the toss and put Lahore in to bat. Opposing skipper Fakhar Zaman did his part in trying to construct a strong innings for his side as he scored 53 off 36 balls before top-edging a Shahid Afridi googly to point.
However, he was let down by those around him as the top order failed to contribute with only a knock of 30 from 22 balls from David Wiese helping the team to 140/8.
None of the Multan batsmen gave the bowling attack much respect, dispatching them to all parts of the ground. Shan Masood was the standout contributor in the top order, scoring 48 from just 25 balls and effectively taking the game away from the opposition.
His team-mates seemed to be in a hurry to finish things off as well. James Vince scored a handy 25 off 14 while Johnson Charles took the Sultans over the finish line with an unbeaten 41 coming off just 25 balls.
The result means Multan spared themselves a last-place finish in the table, condemning the Qalandars to that fate instead.
Opening the innings for Lahore, Fakhar Zaman impressed with a fine fifty.
Here, we take a closer look at the left-hander’s display.
RUNS SCORED: 53
BALLS FACED: 36
Zaman looked in ominous form from the start as he set out to put his side on the front foot. However, his opening partner Riki Wessels struggled at the other end and a labourious four runs off 10 balls came to an end when he was castled by CJ Green.
Sohail Akhtar and Haris Sohail also failed to offer Zaman much support as both fell cheaply. The Pakistan opening batsman remained unfazed though and continued scoring at pace, finishing with a strike rate of 147.22.
After his dismissal, David Wiese took charge of proceedings, helping Lahore to a respectable 140/8 with a knock of 30 from 22 balls.
From the very first ball of the match, it became apparent that Zaman was in the mood to score some runs. Mohammad Abbas opened the attack for Multan Sultans and saw his first two deliveries race to the fence. Both balls pitched well outside off stump and that’s asking for trouble against Zaman.
The 28-year-old spanked both deliveries away to the boundary. Even as batsman at the other end struggled, Zaman seemed to be in the zone, striking the ball ever so cleanly off the middle of the bat. At one point, he hit CJ Green to the ropes for three consecutive balls before perishing in the next over after putting up 53 runs from 36 balls with eight boundaries and a six.
The best feature of this innings was how he punished loose deliveries with well-timed cricketing shots. That’s why the manner of his dismissal was so disappointing.
THE OYE HOYE MOMENT!— Cricingif (@_cricingif) March 11, 2019
Fakhar Zaman vs Chris Green 4 - 6 - 4@FakharZamanLive attacks Chris Green and benefits 14 runs from three deliveries
Ball-by-ball scorecard 👉 https://t.co/8ELER2XIHn #LQvMS #PSL2019 #KhelDeewanoKa #CricketForAll #OyeHoyeMoments pic.twitter.com/AxeP7CMSzr
Zaman was determined to accelerate Lahore’s innings and lost his wicket attempting to do so. With everyone around him falling cheaply though, he should’ve put a higher price on his wicket. He was the set batsman and the team would’ve benefited from him spending more time at the crease.
Even though Shahid Afridi’s over had yielded just three runs at the time, the one just prior to it was a big one, producing 16 runs as Zaman had dispatched CJ Green for two fours and a six.
Despite that, the Qalandars captain felt the need to premeditate a slog over mid-wicket only for Afridi’s well-disguised googly to punish his cross-batted shot. A top edge was skied towards point for Shan Masood to gobble up.
VERDICT – 8/10
A handy knock from the skipper saw the crowd in Karachi treated to some exquisitely timed shots, particularly through the offside. His early departure though may have been the difference between Lahore setting a competitive target of 141 as opposed to a more dominant one.