Spirited quicks help Lahore Qalandars defend 138

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Lahore Qalandars 138 for 6 (Sohail Akhtar 39, Devcich 28, Umer Khan 2-25) beat Karachi Kings 116 all out (Mohammad Rizwan 34, Haris Rauf 4-23, Shaheen Afridi 2-20) by 22 runs

How the game played out

The odds were stacked against Lahore Qalandars at the halfway mark against Karachi Kings, a side that’s had their number for the last three years. Defending 139, it was the young pace attack of Mohammad Hafeez’s side that refused to give in, with 18-year old Shaheen Afridi leading from the front, while Haris Rauf landed crucial blows towards the end. Karachi never could get a head of steam, with wily changes of pace and disciplined bowling by both fast bowlers and spinners ensuring the asking rate continued to creep up. It was an easy win in the end, Lahore ensuring Imad Wasim’s team fell 22 runs short.

Much as Lahore had in the opening game, they got off to a fast start, this time thanks to Sohail Akhtar, whose 25-ball 39 was the dominant performance of the early stages. But from 64 for one after eight overs, Karachi chiseled their way back thanks to teenage spinner Umer Khan. He built the pressure on Akhtar before forcing him to hole out, before getting the wicket of AB de Villiers to strike a dagger into the Lahore innings. From thereon, it was only cameos from Lahore, but their bowlers ensured the 138 posted was more than enough.

Turning point

Even though tight lines from Lahore’s bowlers meant Karachi required 49 from the last five overs, they had eight wickets in hand and Colin Ingram and Mohammad Rizwan at the crease. But the collapse that followed, after the rain break meant they gave themselves little chance to come back into the game. The last eight wickets fell for 26 runs, with the chasing side bowled out within the 20 overs. The DLS method might have had them losing by nine runs at the rain delay; the true scale of the defeat was in fact significantly greater.

Star of the day

20 years old and having never played in the Pakistan first class system, Haris Rauf stood tall in a team that comprises legends of the international game. Rauf came through the talent hunt programme that Lahore Qalandars have in place, with the side impressed by his ability to bowl in excess of 150kph. He consistently hit the high 140s during his spell today, and was playing just his fourth T20 at any level. That inexperience never really showed as he hit his lengths with impeccable accuracy, and he was the one who put paid to any hopes that Karachi might have harboured. His final figures of 4-0-23-4 didn’t come close to flattering a player who is certain to have his best years ahead of him.

The big miss

Mentioning him twice in a row might constitute cyber-bullying, but it’s hard to look past AB de Villiers failing to get going for the second time in as many matches. Having shown us a sneak peak of what could be expected from him with a cameo against Islamabad United, Lahore fans couldn’t wait for him to bring his best in the match that arguably matters more than any other throughout the competition – Lahore vs Karachi. Instead, de Villiers innings lasted just five balls, having added just three runs to his side’s total. He did get a shot at redemption in the second innings, however, when he took over the captaincy after Mohammad Hafeez was forced off with a nasty thumb injury. A few key decisions he made – notably giving Rauf the ball just after he had dropped a simple catch – turned out well in a game his side ended up comfortably winning.

Where the teams stand

There’s a harmonious egalitarianism to the PSL table thus far. No team that’s played two matches has won or lost both thus far. Lahore’s win means both they and Karachi have one win from two each.

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