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14 Feb 2021
If ever Mohammad Hafeez had to show why he is known as the 'Professor' in cricket, this innings of his would do him a lot of favour. Calculating and eliminating all risks to perfection the professor's blitzkrieg of an innings made sure that opposition skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed was left huffing, puffing and fuming at his bowlers for not executing the plans at the death.
Hafeez’s 73 off 33 at a strike rate of 221 almost stole the show from opener Fakhar Zaman who made a composed 82 off 52 himself to take away the Man of the Match award. In the process, Hafeez also hit the fastest fifty off his T20 career, getting to the milestone in just 24 balls. Zaman, 30, carried the bat having opened the innings with skipper Sohail Akhtar, who was the lone wicket to fall for the Qalandars in the entire innings.
At 64-1 in 8.4 overs, Lahore looked starved of momentum when 40-year-old Hafeez joined Zaman at the crease. He then started taking the attack to the opposition right from the word go. However the game-changing over was the 14th, bowled by Usman Shinwari. Requiring 78 off the last seven Hafeez got into the act and hit Shinwari for a four on the very first ball of the over. With Lady Luck not on their side, Hafeez was dropped on the very next ball by young Saim Ayub at square leg boundary.
Given a life, Hafeez was further helped by some very rash bowling from Shinwari. After bowling four good deliveries, he not only bowled a juicy no-ball outside the off stump which got put over extra cover for a six, he also conceded a boundary on the free hit to give away a total of 19 runs of that crucial over. That changed the course of the game as men from Quetta saw their captain frustrated to the core, shouting at the bowlers and getting livid with the fielders for dropping catches. From that moment onwards, the match slipped away from them and Lahore batsmen hit the remaining 59 runs in just 20 balls to wrap up the game with 10 balls still remaining.
Earlier, Quetta were put to bat first after losing the toss. The start wasn’t ideal for Sarfaraz’s men as they lost Ayub and Banton, the two openers for just 12 runs on the board. But then the two experienced men of the Purple, Chris Gayle and Sarfaraz got together, adding 101 runs for the fourth wicket. Sarafraz was then removed for 40 by Haris Rauf. Rashid Khan did in Chris Gayle with a flipper for 68. It then got difficult for Quetta to capitalise on the previous partnership as they kept on losing wickets at regular interval.
Finally, a dash from Mohammad Nawaz at the end, where he hit 33 off 20 deliveries saw the team representing the Balochistan region get to 178 at the end of their 20 overs. Rauf was the pick of the bowlers for Lahore, finishing with 3/38 in his four overs.
With this win at the National Stadium in Karachi, the Qalandars have now reached the top of the PSL points table after the completion of the first four games.