Qalandars down Zalmi to defend title in HBL PSL 8 final with Sultans

LAHORE: Young opening batter Tahir Baig’s sensible 54-run knock powered Lahore Qalandars into the HBL PSL season eight final with a narrow four-wicket victory over Peshawar Zalmi in the Eliminator 2 on Friday.

The Qalandars will now defend their title against Multan Sultans in the final, who thumped them by a massive margin of 86 runs in the qualifier on Wednesday.

Set to chase 172, the Qalandars accumulated 176/6 with seven balls to spare at the back of an anchoring half-century by opener Tahir.

The Qalandars had an unwanted start to the pursuit as the home side lost two quick wickets for a mere 38 runs in the fifth over with their hard-hitting opener Fakhar Zaman (6) and debutant Ahsan Bhatti (15) perishing cheaply.

Abdullah Shafique then joined hands with Tahir and put on a brief 31-run partnership before a mix-up between the wickets saw the end of the former’s innings, who perished for a run-a-ball 10.

Despite his side losing wickets at regular intervals, Tahir held his ground firm and kept the scoreboard ticking sensibly before putting a crucial partnership with Sam Billings with the pair adding 50 runs in 28 deliveries.

Zalmi’s last-match hero Aamer Jamal then finally handed his side a much-needed breakthrough when he hit back at Tahir soon after the latter amassed his maiden half-century.

Tahir remained the top-scorer for the Qalandars with an anchoring 42-ball 54, laced up with seven boundaries and two sixes.

Billings and Sikandar Raza made sure to maintain Qalandars’ march towards victory with vital cameos before David Wiese (9*) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (12*) steered their side over the line.

Wicketkeeper batter Billings remained the notable run-getter for the Qalandars with his 21-ball 28, featuring three boundaries, followed by Sikandar, who scored 23 off 14 with the help of as many boundaries.

Azmatullah Omarzai led the bowling attack for the Zalmi with 2/31 while Salman Irshad, Aamer and Wahab Riaz struck out a batter each.

Opting to bat first, Zalmi managed to raise a commendable total of 171/5 on the board at the back of a brilliant knock by their wicketkeeper batter Mohammad Haris.

Earlier, the visitors were off to an unwanted start as Zalmi lost their young batting sensation Saim Ayub (9) cheaply in the second over at a combined total of just 15.

Following an early setback, Zalmi’s skipper Babar Azam and Haris settled things down for their side as the pair added 89 runs amid the second-wicket partnership.

The duo had put Zalmi in command at 102/1 in 11 overs before Rashid Khan handed Qalandars a much-needed breakthrough as he trapped Babar leg before wicket.

Babar scored 42 off 36 deliveries, smashing seven boundaries.

The Zalmi then dealt with another blow in the same bowler as Rashid Khan got rid of Tom Kohler-Cadmore for a duck.

Haris, however, continued his domination over the Qalandars’ bowlers and put on a vital 49-run partnership with Bhanuka Rajapaksa before Shaheen finally dismissed him on the last delivery of his spell.

He top-scored for Zalmi with a 54-ball 85, hitting 11 boundaries and two sixes.

Following Haris’s departure, Rajapaksa’s cameo made sure Zalmi finished with a par score in the second eliminator. He remained unbeaten with 25 in 18 balls with the help of four boundaries.

Rashid and Zaman Khan led the Qalandars’ bowling attack; taking two wickets each while Shaheen made one scalp.



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