Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Rashid Khan were the heroes as Lahore Qalandars registered a hard fought 4-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi in the second match of the PSL 2021.
With Qalandars skipper Sohail Akhtar winning the toss and opting to field first, the script seemed to be going the same way as the inaugural match of this PSL season between Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators.
Shaheen Afridi breathes fire
For the third consecutive innings of PSL 2021, a wicket fell in the very first over as Shaheen Afridi had Imam-ul-Haq caught behind for a duck, with the left-handed opener nicking an innocuous outswinger speared way outside the off stump.
Sharing the new ball from the other end, debutant Salman Mirza took a little time in finding his bearing as veteran Shoaib Malik (26 off 24 balls) spanked him for a couple of glorious boundaries. However, the 20-year-old Afridi kept up the pressure from his end, following up his wicket-maiden to start off the innings with another tight over in which he conceded just four runs.
Salman eventually benefited from the pressure created by his senior counterpart as he deceived Kamran Akmal with a slower one and had the dangerous Haider Ali knicking off the very next delivery.
At 19/3, Ravi Bopara (50 off 44 balls) came out to the middle and went about repairing the damage, first in the company of the 39-year-old Malik and then the West Indian Sherfane Rutherford (26 off 27 balls).
It was slow going though as the ever-consistent Rashid Khan (4-0-14-0) came on to choke the runflow in the company of David Wiese and Ahmed Daniyal. At 99/4 after 16 overs, Bopara and Rutherford tried to accelerate but were undone by Afridi's brilliance.
The left-arm paceman dished out a combination of toe-crushing yorkers and slower deliveries to send both the well-set batsman back to the hut, finishing with impressive figures of 4-1-14-3.
Despite Afridi's brilliance, the Qalandars did manage to end the innings with a flourish thanks to Amad Butt (23* off 11 balls), who hit a couple of sixes in the last over to propel Peshawar Zalmi a fighting total of 140/6.
Hafeez composed knock, Rashid's cameo lead Lahore to victory
In reply, the Lahore batsmen fond the going tough as Peshawar bowlers seemed determined to make a match of it after the disappointing performance by their batters in the first dig.
Even though Qalanders' top three batters all got off to decent starts, Wahab Riaz and co. stuck to their tasks. Mujeeb Ur Rahman was the first to get into the wickets column as he got rid of opposition captain Sohail Akhtar for 14. Skipper Riaz followed it up by dismissing Fakhar Zaman to leave the Qalandars reeling at 38/2 after 6 overs.
Just 15 runs later, no. 3 Agha Salman was bowled by Amad Butt the match looked like it could go either way. That's when experienced campaigner Mohammad Hafeez decided to drop anchor. He was well supported by wicketkeeper Ben Dunk (22 off 14 balls) before Riaz came back to clean bowl the latter with a lovely yorker.
While Hafeez looked solid at one end, England's emerging fast bowler Saqib Mahmood provided another twist in the tale by scalping 2 wickets in 2 balls with some lovely reverse swing bowling.
With Lahore 6 down and still needing 31 runs to win from 4 overs, it was anybody's game when Rashid Khan came into bat. But the Afghan superstar did not let the pressure get to him and calmly finished the PSL game off, hitting 3 boundaries and a helicopter six to finish off the game. While Rashid finished on 27 from just 15 balls, Hafeez too remained unconquered on 33 off 26 balls.
PSL 2021: Lahore Qalandars v Peshawar Zalmi, who won 'Man of the Match'?
Shaheen Shah Afridi's sensational spell of 4-1-14-3 was crucial in restricting the Peshawar Zalmi to a low score in this PSL game. The left-armer is fast becoming one of the best bowlers in world cricket and his skills were too hot to handle for the Zalmi batsmen. Afridi was deservedly awarded the Man of the Match award in the second PSL match of 2021.
Also see: PSL points table 2021