Delport shines for Lahore as they seal victory by 4 runs in a thrilling encounter
Lahore Qalandars desperately needed a win to have any hopes of making it through to the play offs, against a Peshawar Zalmi side which is being billed by experts as favourites to win the tournament. Shahid Afridi won the toss and elected to field first. Azhar Ali was back to lead the Qalandars and opened the innings along with Chris Gayle. Junaid Khan bowled the first over was Zalmi and there was drama straight away! He got Lahore’s danger man Chris Gayle once again for a duck, with a fuller delivery that kept low and hit him on the pads. Gayle was extremely unfortunate with that decision, as hawkeye showed that the ball would have swayed down the leg stump. With that dismissal, Zalmi were ecstatic as Cameron Delport made his way in the middle next. He supported Azhar well in the beginning before taking charge as Lahore picked up momentum and began to score some runs.
Darren Sammy picked up Azhar in the 9th over courtesy an easy catch for Tamim Iqbal at deep wicket. Umar Akmal joined Delport in the middle, and these two explosive batsmen let loose and put on an amazing partnership. Both batsmen began to hit the ball cleanly and took on every single bowler. Delport pulled away Wahab Riaz for a spectacular six, while Akmal only dealt in boundaries on the other end. They put on a 100 run partnership before Cameron Delport departed after an impressive knock (78 from 61) in the very last over as he tried to hit one for six off Junaid Khan. Akmal finished the innings with a boundary and remained not out at 52 from 31 balls, as Lahore Qalandars put up a competitive total of 164/3 in their allotted overs.
The tournament’s best opening pair, Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Hafeez started proceedings smoothly for Peshawar Zalmi with some good stroke play early on. It seemed they were going to put on another big partnership together until Azhar Ali took one of the catches of the tournament to dismiss Hafeez cheaply off Kevon Cooper. Tamim kept timing the ball beautifully, with some elegant shots all over the ground. He was joined by Kamran Akmal who looked to play second fiddle, as Tamim was in the form of his life. Just as he was beginning to look dangerous, Tamim (30 from 22) was dismissed by Delport as he played a lazy shot straight into the keeper’s hands. Dawid Malan stepped in next, and both batsmen took their time before they started to score some runs. After spending some time in the middle, Malan dispatched Zohaib Khan for a glorious six, as it was anybody’s match with Peshawar Zalmi at 78/2 after their first ten overs. Kamran Akmal fell in the 11th over as Azhar took another catch, this time off Delport’s bowling as Afridi came on to bat with the crowd going wild.
Once again, Afridi went back as quickly as he came in, after hitting one high up in the air as Delport took his third wicket, in what was turning out to be a great day for him with both bat and ball. Things were looking bleak for Zalmi before Shahid Yousuf and Malan lashed out at Adnan Rasool in the 14th over, putting him away for 20 runs and the stage was set for a thrilling finish. With five overs remaining, Zalmi needed 42 runs with Malan looking well set. Kevon Cooper fielded brilliantly off his own bowling to run out Yousuf as Qalandars began to pile on the pressure in the last few overs. Sammy was next and was dismissed by lofting an easy catch to Zohaib Khan at cover in the same over as Zalmi lost two crucial wickets in quick succession. Malan was caught leg before by Kevon Cooper in the 19th over as the Qalandars celebrated hard sniffing a much needed victory. Ehsan Adil bowled the last over as Zalmi needed 16 runs with Wahab and Junaid batting. Wahab smashed him for a six, and Zalmi needed 6 runs from the last ball to seal victory. Adil bowled a low full toss which Wahab missed, as Qalandars’ fans breathed a sigh of relief! Lahore won the match by 4 runs and can still make it to the play offs, much to the relief of all their fans as another thrilling encounter came to an end in the HBL PSL.
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