David Wiese! Remember the name? You perhaps don’t, unless you’re a Lahore Qalandars fan, since the South African delivered exactly this outcome in the final over of a game last year, smashing a six off the final ball then to power Lahore to victory against Multan. This time around, it was the penultimate ball, and this time, it was Peshawar Zalmi. He was facing Carlos Brathwaite, the undisputed king of final overs in T20 cricket, and it seemed like the West Indian’s grip on that crown would tighten even more after a fantastic first four balls that leaked just three runs.
Lahore needed 5 off 2, and just as it appeared they would manage to let victory slip through their fingers once more, Wiese cleared his front leg, read the slower delivery and bludgeoned the ball over the head of a long-on fielder who could only watch the ball sail into an exultant Lahore crowd. It sealed a famous five wicket win, with this being just the second time Lahore have won three games on the bounce in the PSL.
The craziness of that last over complemented what was one of the games of the season, with ebbs and flows of momentum that kept the outcome uncertain until Wiese launched that final delivery into the stands. Peshawar suffered a nightmarish start that may have proved the difference, slumping to 24 for 3 in the Powerplay thanks to Shaheen Afridi and Samit Patel’s excellent opening overs, before a 116-run stand from two players at extreme ends of the age spectrum, Haider Ali and Shoaib Malik, got Peshawar back on parity.
But Shaheen returned at the death to restrict Peshawar to 187 on a brilliant pitch for batting, and with Fakhar Zaman firing and Sohail Akhtar playing his part, Lahore suffered no capitulation of the top order. Even when Akhtar was run out in a moment of characteristically sabotaging running, Chris Lynn stepped up, and ensured Lahore would always remain ahead of the rate in a partnership that put their side well on course to a reasonably straightforward win. Fakhar smashed a chanceless 46-ball 63, but Lahore almost gave it away when Zaman and Lynn fell within three balls of each other, and with Dunk and Hafeez falling cheaply and the asking rate soaring past 12, it appeared Lahore had tossed away their golden opportunity.
But Rahat Ali’s shoddy 19th over that both Wiese and Patel capitalised on suddenly put them back into contention. Wiese put away a slower ball for six over midwicket and Patel caressed him for four in the gap at extra cover to turn what looked like an impossible scenario into one where they needed just eight off the final over. Wiese would do the rest.
The Shaheen Afridi show
Pakistan, and indeed Lahore Qalandars, had best be careful not to take Shaheen Afridi for granted for the moment. In the last few months, the lanky left-arm pacer, barely put of his teenage years, has fast risen to become Pakistan’s only indispensable bowler across formats. At the PSL this year, he had only continued that irresistible form, and the first over of the opposition innings has become the stage upon which Shaheen Afridi repeatedly plays the lead role. Today, the contest was a mismatch in terms of current form, with the hapless Tom Banton the latest to fall victim to Afridi’s wiles. Off the second ball of the innings and the first he faced, he was hopelessly deceived by an off-cutter, and spooned the ball straight to extra cover.
He showed he was just as adept at bowling at the death, and would return in the 17th over to see off the threat of Lewis Gregory, before delivering the ball of the evening to his fellow left-arm speedster Wahab Riaz. It saw off stump buckle at the base, and would have felled far more capable batsman than the Peshawar captain. Afridi is quickly showing how rapidly he continues to improve; he now ranks second on the wickets charts at this year’s PSL with an economy of 6.88. No one else in the top five can boast an economy rate under 7.40. In a game that went down to the last over, every slight edge he could provide his side was priceless.
Star of the day
There was much hand-wringing about the paucity of young Pakistan batsmen with the capability of stepping up in the PSL last year. Indeed, the highest scoring uncapped Pakistani at the PSL in 2019 was now-Lahore captain Sohail Akhtar, with 241 runs across the season. That total has nearly been matched already by 19-year old Haider Ali, who enriched his burgeoning reputation with a delightful innings today that takes him to 238 runs for the season already. Coming in with Peshawar crumbling at 24 for three, he struck up a 116-run partnership with Shoaib Malik, a man who had made his international debut before Haider was even born. And he wasn’t just playing second fiddle.
Haider was the chief aggressor for much of that stand, picking up the tempo around the 12th over by smashing David Wiese and Haris Rauf for three fours and a six inside six balls, before bringing up his 50 in 31 balls. The power he generates when hitting towards the onside is particularly precocious for someone so young, and what was in evidence today may just be a preview for what to expect from Haider Ali in this format. He would see Peshawar through close to the end of the innings, continuing to push at the margins of what Peshawar would have deemed possible after losing their top three for 24, and by the time he fell in the 18th over for a 43-ball 69, he had left Peshawar in a far more dominant position than he’d found them.
Where the teams stand
Lahore have now won four games in eight, the first time the franchise has won more than three games in a season. They rise to third, while Peshawar Zalmi stay at nine points in second place.