It’s not everyday that a team rises from the ashes of its own squalor to take on seasoned highballers, yet Lahore Qalandars seem to have left 4 seasons of abject failure behind to stake their claim on a piece of glory. On Saturday, they defeated Multan Sultans comprehensively to reach the final of the PSL, where they will play fellow first time finalists Karachi Kings. While their defeat of Multan was comprehensive, it wasn’t exactly easy. There’s plenty to be said as we discuss 5 talking points from LQ vs MS.
1. Decent at the top, decent at the bottom
Every winning inning needs a good start and a good finish. Lahore’s start might not have been exceptional, but it laid a decent foundation for them to base their inning on. Tamim Iqbal started things off with some classy shots, and Fakhar Zaman held the fort after the former’s dismissal. Despite last match’s hero Mohammad Hafeez being far from inspiring this time around, the good start meant that Samit Patel and David Wiese could play aggressively from the get go - which led to the late flourish that took the score from average to very good.
2. Afridi: The bowling allrounder who doubled as a batsman once
Looking at Shahid Afridi now, it’s hard to imagine that this guy used to open the batting for his country once. Granted, he never quite played an orthodox knock, but his prowess with the bat seems to have taken an irrevocable downturn while his bowling is as good as ever. While the likes of Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Khan were brutalized, Afridi was a role model with his figures of 4-0-18-2. One only wishes that his batting didn’t resemble that of a tailender’s now.
3. What 8 months of no competitive cricket can do to in-form players
Rilee Rossouw, who was a star for the Sultans before the lockdown and has had excellent stints with many other teams, failed in both the Sultans’ playoff games. Zeeshan Ashraf also faced similar woes, as Multan’s batting looked subpar at best after the restart. Adam Lyth did what he could against Lahore, but his effort went in vain after a flurry of wickets left only Khushdil Shah on behalf of MS’ batting. Soon, the seemingly inevitable happened, nullifying all the hard work the Sultans had put in in the league stage.
4. David Wiese being the model T20 all-rounder
It’s a blessing to have an all-rounder in any format, and even more of one when they perform in both departments. After the fiery 48 he put on the board with the bat, David Wiese was not only the most economical bowler with only 27 conceded from 4, but also took 3 to tie Haris Rauf’s haul. Rauf himself was also relatively miserly with the runs, while Dilbar Hussain and Shaheen Shah Afridi also picked up 2 each. Wiese’s contribution is magnified by the fact that he got Adam Lyth and Ravi Bopara out.
5. Why Lahore going to the finals is important for franchise cricket
In every T20 league in the world, there are those underachievers; Amo Sharks in the Shpageeza League, St Lucia Zouks in the CPL, Chittagong Vikings in the BPL, Hobart Hurricanes in the BBL, Kings XI Punjab in the IPL etc. Lahore Qalandars were that team for the PSL, and their ascension will inspire other franchises to get their chins up instead of continuing to lag behind.
What’s next for LQ?
Playing in your first final is never, ever easy. More often than not, it becomes a learning experience rather than the memory of a triumph. Thankfully for Lahore, both the finalists at this year’s PSL will be feeling the same pressure. On the other hand, while they’ve won their two playoff matches, many of their players either struggled with the bat or couldn’t do as much as they would have liked. LQ must address this issue before they meet KK, who will have home advantage when play begins at the National Stadium, Karachi at 8:30 PM on Tuesday, November 17th.
How our predictions went
Lahore Qalandars were unlucky with the toss, but they did take the match. All the individual players we pegged to play well unfortunately failed to shine as brightly (or at all). The highest number of sixes went the Sultans’ way, but the Qalandars managed to get the most fours by a long way. Join us again when we review the final of this year’s PSL!