Tuesday, February 28, 2023
As the eighth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) shifts to Punjab for the remaining matches of the tournament, Shaheen Afridi-led Lahore Qalandars have had a good season so far.
They defeated Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday and topped the following night with an incredible thumping of Islamabad United to record their biggest win (in terms of runs) in PSL.
The twin wins at home — in front of a rousing crowd — have propelled Qalandars to the top of the points table.
Qalandars — who have won four of the five matches they have played so far — will take heart from the fact that they play three of their last five matches at home, where they lifted the title last year, and that the Gaddafi Stadium hosts the three Playoffs and the Final is a further motivation for the defending champions.
They had an incredible start to the tournament as they defeated Multan Sultans by only one run at the latter’s home after one of the best shows of death bowling featuring Shaheen — the captain himself— Haris Rauf, and Zaman Khan.
Fakhar Zaman, who was the leading run-getter last year, and Shaheen are living up to the expectations as both lead their respective departments for their side and are second on the overall charts.
So far, Fakhar has accumulated 235 runs at a brilliant batting strike rate of 173 and has scored two half-centuries, while Shaheen has picked up 10 wickets at an average of 15 and a bowling strike rate of 10.8.
He is also one of the only two bowlers — the second being Multan Sultans’ Ihsanullah — to record a five-fer in the tournament so far.
The addition of Abdullah Shafique to the side has provided a boost to Qalandars’ batting line-up. The right-hander one-drop has played a pivotal role in both wins at home with brisk 75 and 45. Lahore Qalandars’ fans are in for a treat if he continues to score at a strike rate of 184.61.
1. Highest target in PSL history
Qalandars, during their first match in front of the home crowd at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday, wrote history by hitting the highest total of this season thus far.
Opting to bat first, the Shaheen-led side posted a mammoth target of 242 runs against Peshawar Zalmi.
2. Shaheen’s five-fer
Qalandar’s captain Shaheen has performed incredibly so far, hauling his second five-fer in PSL this season. The previous five-fer was in 2018.
During the same match on Sunday, Shaheen gave Qalandars a great start as he impressed fans by breaking Muhammad Haris’s bat in two and then breaking the stump in the next delivery.
3. Fakar Zaman’s 96 runs on 45 balls
During the thrilling Sunday match, Qalandars seemed to be on fire as it was in the same match Fakhar awed audiences with spectacular batting term, making 96 runs on 45 balls.