Aqib Javed, the coach of the Lahore Qalandars, spoke to ESPNcricinfo earlier this week about how other PSL clubs prioritized power hitters but Qalandars wanted to go for the finest bowlers. Here, Multan Sultans proved to them the importance of power hitters lower in the order as Tim David and Kieron Pollard fought valiantly to get 160 runs in the face of an overpowering bowling performance by the Qalandars.
The reigning champions’ batting order was then shockingly dismantled by Multan Sultans, with Sheldon Cottrell blowing away the top order as Qalandars collapsed for 76, the third-lowest total in PSL history. Being the first side to accomplish so, it guaranteed Multan Sultans ‘ spot in the PSL final for a third straight season, while Qalandars dropped to Friday’s eliminator to continue defending their championship.
Multan Sultans beats Lahore Qalandars in Qualifier
Chasing a score down against Qalandars’ bowling line-up has been the most frightening assignment in the PSL, and the Multan Sultans were savvy enough to be adaptable. For the first time this year and for the sixth time in club history, they won the toss and chose to bat first. Yet they often choose these opportunities well; in the previous four, they had won three of them.
With Qalandars at their imperious best with the ball, suffocating Multan Sultans in the opening 15 overs, that triumph appeared anything but inevitable for most of the first innings. This season, the average first innings score here was 193, but it became clear rather quickly that the Multan Sultans wouldn’t go even close to that. The most difficult task in the PSL has evolved into chasing a low total against Qalandars’ bowling lineup, and the Multan Sultans were wise enough to be adaptable.
For only the sixth occasion in club history, they won the toss and chose to bat first for the first time this year. Yet they have a propensity for picking these situations; in the previous four, they had won three. When Qalandars were at their domineering best with the ball in the first 15 overs of the first innings, they appeared everything but certain to win. The average first innings score in this game this season was 193, but it became clear very quickly that the Multan Sultans wouldn’t get anywhere close to that.
While it had its opportunities, Pollard’s brilliant lower-order counterattack was what helped his team escape a predicament. Early in the assault, Sam Billings eliminated a skier after Shaheen Afridi and Hussain Talat had missed opportunities to eliminate him. As he hit Shaheen for three sixes in the penultimate over, the Qalandars skipper conceded 20, making it his most expensive PSL over, he was still working through the gears and driving the Multan Sultans total up to a defendable level.
Also, it led to Pollard’s 33-ball 50, which earned him Player-of-the-Match honors. Haris responded with a brilliant last six balls, routinely reaching speeds above 150, and dismissing both Pollard and Khushdil Shah. Just six runs were scored, but it helped Qalandars gain some momentum and handed the burden over to the hitters. But Cottrell, who had just joined the PSL, ripped the game out of the hands of the Qalandars before they had a chance to start the chase.
Mirza Baig and Abdullah Shafique were both out after his second over’s twin strike, which made fantastic use of the right-handers’ inswing. At the other end, Anwar Ali bowled a magnificent delivery to smash back the top of Fakhar Zaman’s off stump. Cottrell continued the ambush after the ambush was ended, coming back to dismiss Shaheen with a wayward swing off the second ball he faced, finding Usman Khan at the cover.
A shell-shocked Qalandars was about to endure yet another agony. Pollard, who was their primary batter of choice, lost two wickets in his first over, first getting Talat out with a careless running catch and then ending Sikandar Raza’s innings with a superb racing catch from Abbas Afridi. The eliminator on Friday was already on Qalandars’ mind. A couple of hearty smashes from David Wiese and Rauf gave a crowded, enthusiastic home crowd plenty to cheer for before Billings and Rashid fell in rapid succession.
But it was short-lived as Abbas Afridi struck the decisive blow as Haris fluffed a ball to the goalkeeper. This exact opponent destroyed the Multan Sultans in the PSL championship game the year before. Yet, this was a step in the direction of making sure they might not even have to encounter them at that point again.