By our correspondent
LAHORE: Multan Sultans moved past Lahore Qalandars with a comprehensive and well-deserved 84 runs win in the qualifier to march into their third straight final of the Pakistan Super League-8 here at the Gaddafi stadium on Wednesday night.
Kieron Pollard with his attacking half century anchored the Multan Sultan innings to 160 for five and then Lahore Qalandars were pushed to the wall to only get 76 runs in 14.3 overs.
The winner of the day’s match have now moved to the final to be played on Sunday while the losing side will now play the second eliminator on Friday (March 17) against the winning team of the first eliminator scheduled for today. Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi will meet in the first eliminator.
Lahore Qalandars that had to fight tooth and nail for its dominance instead conceded three quick wickets with in a span of 10 balls early on. Qalandars’ first fall came at the total score of 15 when Mirza Baig was edged out by Sheldon Cottrell in the third over and at a ball later, Abdullah Shafique went for a duck while the hosts key figure Fakhar Zaman (8) was clean bowled by Anwar Ali in the 4th over.
Already in dire straits, Lahore Qalandars saw their skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi, who came up the order, in an attempt for a big shot to Cottrell gave a thick edge catch in the hands of Usman Mir at cover. Lahore was reeling at 28 for four by the fifth over.
Sam Billings and Hussain Talat kept the score ticking but the ask rate swelled above 10 and with four wickets already down, the probable score seemed a faraway dream to achieve for Lahore.
At 41, Talat was run out on a direct hit on the wickets from Usman Khan while the next batter Sikandar Raza also did not last long at the crease and hit the ball sky high for only Abbas Afridi to take a stunning catch off Pollard.
When Billings looked to eye the ball properly and was joined by David Wiese, Ihsanullah chipped in with the wicketkeeper-batsman scalp. Billings who made 19 runs in 27 balls was followed by Rashid Khan for a duck and Lahore were 50 for eight in 11.2 overs.
Wiese and Haris Rauf together hit a couple of boundaries and were separated by Usama Mir, reducing Qalandars to 76 for nine. Wiese was confirmed LBW in a review as he score 12 runs in as many balls. Whereas on the third ball of the 15th over, the entire Lahore Qalandar innings folded when Abbas Afridi took Rauf wicket at 15, aided with two fours and a six.
Sheldon Cottrell finished with the figures of three for 20, Usama had two for 12 while Anwar Ali, Abbas Afridi, Ihsanullah and Pollard shared one wicket each.
Multan Sultans had a decent start to their campaign in their qualifier while having 46 runs on the power play without losing a wicket.
However, after being hammered for a couple of boundaries in the initial six overs by Usman Khan and Mohammad Rizwan, Lahore got its first breakthrough.
Haris Rauf cleaned up Usman Khan, who scored 29 runs in 28 balls, in the eighth over when Multan was at 53 that was developed for the first wicket along with skipper Rizwan. Lahore were delighted here to have kept Usman quiet after his remarkable innings the other night.
Zaman Khan started the 11th over with the wicket of Rilee Rossouw, who with a couple of singles and doubles and a six gathered 13 runs in 12 balls and also reached his 400 of the tournament.
Rashid, however, concluded the 13th over with the most important wicket of Rizwan for 29-ball 33. In his next over, he almost had Kieron Pollard caught and bowled chance. It was a tough one to had but breaks were applied to the flow of runs that during the initial part was above eight runs average and by then dropped to just above six.
Rashid finished his spell by conceding only 18 runs in his four overs and also took the key wicket of Multan Sultans’ skipper.
When at 123 in the 18th over Tim David at 16 was dropped off Rauf by Sam Billings. And during the last five overs, Multan smashed 61 runs to raise the total to worth fighting for.
In the process, Pollard also managed his half century and he also smacked Shaheen for three sixes in the 19th to get 20 runs there and then. Pollard, who was dropped twice became the second scalp of Rauf at 57 in 34 balls that was laced with a four and six sixes. On the very next ball, Rauf clean bowled fresh batter Khushdil Shah for a duck. Anwar Ali, however, prevented Rauf’s hat trick to happen and took a single.
Tim David on the other hand remained not out on 22 runs off 15 balls in Multan Sultans fight back after middle order clamp by Lahore.
Rauf finished with the figures of three for 34 while Zaman Khan and Rashid Khan shared one wicket apiece.
Earlier, Multan Sultans won the toss and decided to bat against defending champions Lahore Qalandars, who defeated them in last year’s final and also twice this year in the league stage.