A 115-run stand made light work of a stiff target as Qalandars remain unbeaten
Lahore Qalandars 179 for 1 (Zaman 82*, Hafeez 73*) beat Quetta Gladiators 178 for 6 (Gayle 68, Sarfaraz 40, Rauf 3-38) by nine wickets
This might only have been a T20 game, but it felt like an epic by the time Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez chased Quetta Gladiators out of the contest. Ages ago, or so it seemed, Chris Gayle struck his highest PSL score, 68 off 40 balls – aided by several dropped catches along the way – to help Quetta post 178, the highest first innings score this tournament. It looked a match-winning total then, but a stunning onslaught from Hafeez and Zaman helped Lahore Qalandars make short work of the target, and they got there with more than an over to spare.
Hafeez was particularly destructive, grabbing a game that had looked like drifting by the scruff, forcing an asking rate that had soared above 11 back below a run-a-ball within the space of three overs. It was like stick cricket by the end; the sixes and fours Hafeez was striking appeared to come as easily as buttons being pushed on a keyboard, with Quetta skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed’s apoplectic rage visible to the world’s cameras. The unbeaten 115-run second wicket partnership came off just 58 balls, with Hafeez responsible for scoring 73 off them in the 33 deliveries he faced.
After being put in to bat, Quetta rejigged the batting line-up even if they didn’t make any changes. Banton and Saim Ayub fell early once more, with Lahore Qalandars permitting them just 38 runs in the Powerplay, but Gayle and Sarfaraz would accumulate a 101-run partnership that put Quetta back on track. Sarfaraz appeared to be timing the ball more sweetly than has been in evidence for quite some time, and while Gayle wasn’t at his fluent best, it didn’t stop him from bludgeoning five fours and as many sixes on his way to top-scoring for his side. Mohammad Nawaz put in a cameo at the end and Quetta had all the momentum then, but Hafeez and Fakhar had other ideas.
Star of the day
There was some spice in the contest after a terse recent exchange between Hafeez and Sarfaraz on social media. When Hafeez was called upon to bowl with the Quetta captain at the crease, there was added jeopardy in the game. While Sarfaraz got him away for a couple of boundaries off his second over, the 40-year-old would more than get him back with the bat.
Hafeez would later tell Gayle he didn’t have the muscles to bat like him, but what Hafeez does possess in his repertoire most could only lust after. With barely a shot looked like it was played in anger, he caressed – that word is used advisedly – his way to his fastest PSL half-century, off just 24 balls, capitalising on some wayward bowling and a fairly straightforward drop on the boundary by the young Saim Ayub. With the asking rate coming down so quickly it might have needed a parachute, he sped up even further, finishing with another 23 off just nine deliveries, the winning sot a disdainful drive over extra cover off the young Mohammad Hasnain.
It goes on to illustrate why Hafeez keeps backing himself to be a part of Pakistan’s World T20 plans, and if he’s in this sort of touch, he’ll be pivotal to his franchise’s hopes of finally landing a PSL title.
Miss of the day
In a game that was perhaps defined as much by errors as individual brilliance, there were several who vied for this role. Agha Salman was the early frontrunner, dropping Gayle twice at cow corner in what looked like decisive moments, while Tom Banton and Saim Ayub fell early once more and each put Fakhar and Hafeez down once. But Usman Shinwari’s third over, which leaked 19 at a time Lahore needed in excess of 11 an over to seal the win, marked the moment the game finally turned as Quetta capitulated in spectacular fashion.
Sarfaraz, perhaps fuelled by the personal ambition to get one over Hafeez, would go on to rebuke Shinwari publicly after that over, and as the fours and sixes rained down, his mood would only grow fouler. The negativity around the fielding side appeared to have doomed them well before the winning runs were struck, and it already seems like Quetta might have an uphill task if they are to turn this campaign around.
Zaman was Man of the Match, by the way, and with 82 off 52, it’s an innings that deserves more than to be overshadowed by Hafeez’s brilliance. He would relieve the pressure superbly as Sohail Akhtar at the other end struggled to get going, ensuring the required rate wouldn’t get out of hand early on. And when Hafeez joined him, he wasn’t second fiddle by any means, continuing to showcase why, even as his international form remains patchy, he remains one of the most sought-after players in the PSL.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000