IPL 2021 Preview: Balanced RCB seek to complete hattrick of wins vs vulnerable KKR
17 Apr 2021
The 39-year-old Shoaib Malik seemed to be defying his age as he fought a brave but lone battle, playing a scintillating inning of 73 runs off just 48 balls, before getting out in an anti-climatic manner via hit wicket. Malik was the only threat for Lahore Qalandars who went on to win the game eventually by 10 runs thanks to some stupendous bowling effort by Rashid Khan.
Malik was neutralised by the climbing asking rate, forcing him to dig deep in his crease, which eventually led to his fall. He chopped off his stumps with his won bat, trying to cut a wide Haris Rauf delivery in the 19th over. After his wicket, Umaid Asif, who wasn’t exposed to strike during Malik’s time at the crease hit three sixes to bring the margin of loss down as well as entertain the fans.
Praising Malik for his performance, Zalmi skipper Wahab Riaz said, “The role given to him, he's performing it wonderfully. He has got a lot of experience, I am happy with how he batted tonight.”
Chasing the target of 171 st up by the Qalandars, the Zalmis were forced to lie ow thanks to brilliant powerplay bowling by James Faulkner, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf. However, just as Malik and his partner David Miller, who joined him after Faulkner removed Kamran Akmal and Haider Ali, were trying to get going, the Afghan maestro struck to get rid of Miller. Then in the span of just 16 balls, the entire Zalmi middle order was back in the hut courtesy of Rashid.
After Miller, he got rid of the rest of the overseas brigade which included all three west Indians in Rovman Powell, Sherfane Rutherford and Fabian Allen. Malik then stitched a 41 run partnership with skipper Wahab Riaz to get as close to the chase as possible. But that wasn’t enough as the 22-year-old leggie came back to remove Wahab and pick his first five-wicket haul in franchise cricket.
For this performance he Rashid was awarded Man of the Match. With this, he now has to back to back Man of the Matches in his kitty at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Earlier in the evening, after being asked to bat first, Qlanadars got off to the worst possible start, losing four wickets for 25 runs in eight overs. Much like the last game, Australians came to the rescue of the team from Lahore as Tim David, a hero for the last game, paired up with wicket-keeper batsman Ben Dunk to add provide some stability to the innings. The duo added 81 runs off 50 balls for the sixth wicket.
Soon Dunk was gone and Rashid followed him. Two quick wickets meant that 31-year-old Faulkner arrived at the crease. The two Hobart Hurricanes players then hit the Zalmi bowlers all over the park, collecting 47 runs in just 13 balls. In fact, with 43/ 4 at halfway mark in their innings, Qalandars never looked like getting to 170 by any stretch of the imagination.
Thanks to the Singapore born David, who smacked 64 off 36 balls, the men in grey and green hit 90 runs in the last six overs of the innings. It wasn't without any luck for David as Powell almost caught the 25 year old near the square leg boundary, but fearing overstepping, he threw the ball in, which couldn't quite reach Allen near the ropes.
Not playing a proper fifth bowler hurt Zalmi big time. Although part-time spinner Allen was actually the pickle of the bowlers with two wickets, he went for 36 in his three overs.
Commenting on the second victory in a row, Sohail Akhtar, the Qalandars skipper said, “The plan is to maintain the winning combination and we will decide depending on the wicket, whom to play where. We would look to give our best in all games.”
The Qalandars next face Islamabad, a rematch of their last game, also the first PSL 2021 game in the Abu Dhabi leg. This match would take place on June 13 as the first of the game of the doubleheader day. Zalmi though would be up against Quetta Gladiators on June 12.