By AZ Aamir
KARACHI: Shaheen Afridi bowled well and Mohammad Hafeez batted sensibly as the last year’s runners-up Lahore Qalandars were off to a solid start when they downed former champions Peshawar Zalmi by four wickets in their opener of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021 here at National Stadium on Sunday.
Shaheen pulled off impressive figures of 3-14 in his quota of four overs to restrict Peshawar Zalmi to 140-6 with Ravi Bopara scoring the first fifty of the event.
Hafeez then hit 26-ball 33 not out and Rashid Khan struck 15-ball 27 not out to enable Lahore achieve the target with nine balls to spare after losing six wickets.
Chasing a tricky target, Lahore at one stage were reduced to 109-6 in the 16th over. However both Hafeez and Rashid shared 34 runs for the seventh wicket unbroken stand to ensure the victory.
Rashid hit Amad for a glorious six towards onside to bring in the well-deserved victory. He also hit three fours in his brisk knock.
Hafeez, who played a cool knock, smashed five fours.
Lahore Qalandars had a sluggish start to the chase through Sohail Akhtar and Fakhar Zaman. However, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, Afghanistan’s off-spinner, provided a breakthrough to Zalmi in the fifth over when he got rid of Sohail, caught at deep mid-on by Shoaib Malik. Sohail, the skipper, hit run-a-ball 14 with two fours.
Wahab Riaz in the next over removed Fakhar (15) when he skied one, with Shoaib Malik taking a good catch. Fakhar struck one six and one four in his run-a-ball knock.
Amad Butt took the prized scalp of Agha Salman (21) to leave Lahore struggling at 54-3 in eight overs.
Salman struck four fours from 16 balls. Australia’s Ben Dunk at this stage showed aggression, scoring 14-ball 22 before being clean bowled with a superb yorker by Wahab Riaz. Dunk smacked two fours and a glorious six towards square-leg off Amad.
He added 36 runs for the fourth wicket stand with Hafeez.
Saqib then bowled Samit Patel (8) and David Wiese (0) off two successive balls to leave Lahore reeling at 109-6 in the 16thover.
English bowler Saqib (2-22) and Wahab (2-30) were the main wicket-takers.
Lahore’s fifty came in 47 balls and 100 in 77 balls.
Earlier, Shaheen Afridi removed Imam-ul-Haq (0) off the first ball of the innings when he edged him to keeper Ben Dunk after Zalmi were invited to bat first by Lahore’s skipper Sohail Akhtar.
Salman Mirza, who had been brought in place of the injured Dilbar Hussain, then got rid of Kamran Akmal who struck one four in his ten-ball five.
In the same over Salman also sent Haider Ali (0), held by Dunk behind the stumps, to leave Zalmi gasping at 19-3 in four overs.
Ravi Bopara then joined Shoaib Malik but the latter fell to South Africa’s David Wiese who had him in his first over after the former Pakistan captain had struck four fours in his 24-ball 26. Sherfane Rutherford and Bopara then tried to build the partnership but eventually Shaheen removed the West Indian left-handed batsman, held at deep mid-wicket by Agha Salman.
Rutherford struck David Wiese and Daniyal for one six each in his 27-ball 26.
His fifth wicket partnership with Bopara remained 64. Shaheen then removed Bopara (50) in the penultimate over when he skied it while going for a big shot and Rashid Khan took an easy catch.
Bopara hit six fours in his 44-ball 36th fifty in his 371st T20 game. His fifty came off 43 balls.
Amad Butt showed class with the willow, hitting two sixes off debutant pacer Ahmed Daniyal and one four in his rapid 11-ball 23 not out.
Shaheen was ably backed by debutant left-arm pacer Salman Mirza who got 2-35 in four overs. The world’s top T20 bowler Rashid Khan remained highly impressive as he checked the batsmen, conceding just 14 runs in four overs without leaking a single boundary.
Zalmi’s fifty came off 52 balls and 100 off 97 balls. Zalmi scored just 36 runs in power-play and brought in 46 in the last five overs.
Shaheen was adjudged as man of the match.