By Sulman Ahmed
Mirza Baig’s enterprising 42-ball 54 and bowlers’ brilliance knocked out Peshawar Zalmi by four-wicket in the second eliminator of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at Qadaffi Stadium on Friday.
With this outstanding performance, the Qalandars made it to the final of the marquee tournament thrice. There were plenty of pluses for the Qalandars in all the departments. The batters, including Mirza Baig, treated Zalmi’s bowlers with utter contempt and were ably supported by the bowlers.
Chasing a target of 172, the Qalandars had to face an early hiccup, when Fakhar Zaman danced down to the wicket in a bid to clear midwicket, but Azmatullah Omarzai operated cleverly and knocked Zaman down for just 5-ball 6.
Ahsan Hafeez, who was making his debut in the juiced-up format creamed Mujeeb for a maximum and delicate boundary in the 3rd over. He continued his intent by hammering Azmatullah for a lovely shot over midwicket. Pressure mounted on Omarzai and he lined badly and the Qalandars bagged extra five runs.
But it was the experience of veteran Wahab Riaz, who befuddled the debutant, Ahsan Hafeez with his long ball. Ahsan Hafeez (15 off 10) tried to heave over the leg side but miscued, courtesy of Wahab’s pace. Wicketkeeper Haseebullah Khan made no mistake to grab the catch.
Abdullah Shafique made a run a ball 10 before he was run out jointly by Babar Azam and Haseebullah Khan.
Mirza Baig (54 off 42) scored his promising 50 by hammering a six to Aamar Jamal. But in the next delivery, Jamal left Mirza Baig tangled and the edge went through Haseebullah.
Mohammad Haris’ onslaught of 54-ball 85 steered Peshawar Zalmi to 171-5 against Lahore Qalandars in the second eliminator of the eighth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) on Friday.
After opting to bat, Zalmi skipper Babar Azam lost early his partner Saim Ayub (9 off 5) in the 2nd over, when Zaman Khan cleaned up the 20-year-old. But it was Mohammad Haris, who spearheaded Zalmi’s batting lineup and stitched a prodigious partnership with Babar Azam.
Across 60 balls, Babar Azam and Mohammad Haris plundered 89, targeting the Qalandars’ bowlers with utter contempt, before Babar (42 off 36) was trapped by Rashid Khan. Babar looked belligerent and creamed seven exquisite boundaries.
Though went for runs, Rashid Khan bounced back and struck twice in the 12th over, flummoxing Babar and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (0 off 2). But paving way for a decent total, Mohammad Haris launched an onslaught, whacking 11 boundaries and two sixes. In the death overs, Sri Lanka’s Bhanuka Rajapaksa, played an unconquered cameo, plundering 18-ball 25, laced with four boundaries. Aamer Jamal (1 off 3) was flummoxed by Zaman Khan, while Haseebullah Khan (5 off 2) remained unbeaten, clobbering a boundary.
In terms of economy, Zaman Khan remained a standout for the Qalandars, scooping up two wickets and conceding merely 20 runs in the three overs, he delivered. Rashid Khan also picked up two important wickets, but overall he turned out to be expensive, giving away 42 in his four overs.
Shaheen Afridi was expensive, conceding 41 runs and pick up wickets as Mohammad Haris hoicked the Qalandars skipper straight to Fakhar Zaman. David Wiese (0-22), Haris Rauf (0-31), and Ahsan Hafeez (0-13) remained wicketless.