Lahore Qalandars 198 for 6 (Hope 47, Raza 32*, Qais 2-36) beat Quetta Gladiators 135 for 8 (Roy 48, Afridi 3-22, Wiese 3-23) by 63 runs
Quetta Gladiators’ campaign continues to leap from one disaster to the next. Hours after it was confirmed their Platinum pick, Sri Lankan allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga, would miss the entire PSL, they turned in a wretched performance against a ruthless Lahore Qalandars, succumbing to a 63-run defeat. The 2019 champions were never in the chase of 199 against the defending champions, and the lopsided scorecard didn’t flatter Gladiators in the slightest.
It was Shaheen Shah Afridi who spearheaded his side with the ball, knocking Gladiators out of the contest early on in the chase, and sometimes, knocking batters quite literally off their feet. Unplayable inswinging yorkers stung the toes of several top-order batters; one saw Jason Roy end up flat on his stomach. There was, of course, the mandatory first-over wicket, Abdul Bangalzai dismissed for a golden duck. There was a sensational diving catch from him to get rid of Mohammad Hafeez. There was a lovely deception of pace that fooled Odean Smith all ends up. It was a Shaheen Afridi masterclass.
Haris Rauf had an off day, but aside from him, there was no aspect of this Qalandars bowling line-up that wasn’t on song. Rashid Khan, playing his first game this year, was at his masterful best, having shaken off a poor spell in the SA20. It was his wicket of Roy, who scored a 30-ball 48 laced with 5 sixes, that snuffed out realistic hopes of a chase, and figures of 4-0-17-1 were well merited. Even David Wiese found himself among the wickets, taking 3 for 23 in his full quota. Brief flashes of resistance from Gladiators’ batters were precisely that, and the outcome was a foregone conclusion long before the final delivery was bowled.
Signs of the direction this game was headed in were evident from the outset when Tahir Baig and Fakhar Zaman got Gladiators off to a blazing start. Mohammad Hafeez opened the bowling for the Gladiators, and Baig immediately went after him, clobbering him for two fours and a six in that first over. Even Naseem Shah – who was off-colour – wouldn’t be spared, with Baig picking up two boundaries on either side of square in the powerplay.
The partnership had flown along to 49 in 27 balls before Fakhar nicked off to the keeper. But Qalandars continued in that vein throughout, a 56-run stand between Shai Hope and Kamran Ghulam forming the backbone of the middle overs. A cameo from Hussain Talat and an unbeaten late flurry from Sikandar Raza, who smashed 32 in 16, ensured Gladiators were never quite able to find breathing room, powerless to prevent Gladiators from surging towards 200.
Well, with one notable exception. Mohammad Hasnain was heroic in defeat against Peshawar Zalmi 24 hours earlier, and today would be an encore. He was sensational once more, particularly at the death, mixing up the lengths and speeds expertly, the only bowler who was truly able to stop Lahore in their tracks. Bar his two death overs, which allowed just 14 runs, Qalandars’ score, as well as Gladiators’ margin of defeat, would have been much greater.