Lahore Qalandars 59 (10.2/20 ov)
Peshawar Zalmi 60-7 (17/20 ov)
Peshawar won by 3 wickets
DUBAI // Ever since the start of the 2017 HBL Pakistan Super League was delayed for 50 minutes as maintenance staff attempted to strike the opening ceremony’s stage, it has been beset by struggles.
A corruption probe. Suspended stars. Disappointing crowds. When there has even time been lost to rain at a cricket tournament in the UAE, you know your luck is out.
Perhaps it was little wonder, then, that one of the most excruciatingly difficult matches in the format’s history was played out at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
Lahore Qalandars effort of 59 was the lowest total in the short history of the PSL so far. All out within 10.2 overs, it was the second shortest T20 innings ever, after one that lasted a mere 52 balls in Bangladesh’s Victory Day T20 Cup in 2013.
And yet it proved a horror to chase. Peshawar Zalmi finally managed it in 17 overs, with seven wickets down. As is often the case with low scoring matches, it was still gripping stuff.
Lahore lost a wicket every 6.2 deliveries on average. Only their least-heralded player showed any stickability at all.
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Fakhar Zaman is the lone non-international player in the Qalandars side, other than their emerging player wild card, Mohammed Irfan Jr, who bats at No 11.
Some of their players have played in World Cup finals, as well as many of the leading T20 leagues around the globe.
Zaman, meanwhile, has been operated in less salubrious climes of Karachi Blues, Karachi Zebras and the Pakistan Navy side, but at least he knows the art of digging in.
The fact his innings of 33 represented 56 per cent of his side’s haul shows how pitiful it was.
Brendon McCullum, Umar Akmal and Grant Elliott, three of the four leading lights of the batting line up, were each out for three-ball ducks. Hasan Ali was the pick of the Zalmi bowlers, with three wickets.
To think it was over at the halfway point, though, would factor against three significant things: McCullum’s attacking instincts as captain, Sunil Narine, and Yasir Shah’s skills with a ball, and a central wicket block that was wearing after six matches in three days.
Yasir, who has built a formidable Test career on the basis of fine performances in this stadium, found the facilities perfectly to his liking again. The leg spinner took four for seven, to add to the two for 16 Narine took earlier.
Eoin Morgan, Zalmi’s main hope with the bat, was caught at short-leg off Yasir’s bowling, as evidence of McCullum’s assault.
For all their resistance though, the bowlers could only do so much. Defending 60 proved just beyond them, as Wahab Riaz carved the winning runs off Elliott with the field up.
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