Fakhar, Hafeez record partnership guides Qalandars to nine-wicket win

KARACHI: Blistering unbeaten half-centuries from Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez led Lahore Qalandars to an emphatic nine-wicket win over Quetta Gladiators in the fourth fixture of the HBL PSL 6 here at the National Stadium on Monday night.

Chasing 179 to win, the Qalandars got off to a brisk start as openers Sohail Akhtar, the Lahore Qalandars captain, and Fakhar made full use of the batting powerplay, scoring at eight runs per over to post 48 for no loss in six overs. Sohail was first to go in the ninth over as he misjudged a googly from Zahid Mahmood. He scored 21 off 26 balls, hitting three boundaries. Before departing, the pair had knitted 64 runs.

There was no stopping Fakhar, as the left-handed batsman smoked bowlers all around the ground. He brought up his half-century in the 11th over of the innings off just 31 balls. His partner Hafeez, coming to bat at number three, made full use of a reprieve in the 14th over, when Saim Ayub dropped him at deep mid-wicket. The ‘Professor’ smacked a six and a four in the same over and collected 19 runs off left-arm fast Usman Shinwari.

Hafeez stroked the ball with ease and recorded his fastest HBL PSL fifty as he reached the milestone in 24 balls and hit the winning runs in the 19th over.

Hafeez and Fakhar contributed unbeaten 115 runs for the second wicket, which went down as the best second wicket stand for Lahore Qalandars in the history of HBL PSL. Fakhar top-scored with an unbeaten 52-ball 82, laced with eight fours and two sixes. His partner, Hafeez ended-up with 73 not out off 33, smashing five fours and six gigantic sixes.

That Lahore Qalandars had an imposing total to surmount was because of Chris Gayle, one of Quetta Gladiators’ platinum pick.

The Gayle Storm well and truly arrived in Karachi as the most proficient T20 batsman took Lahore Qalandars to cleaners. Gayle hit five fours and as many sixes in his sizzling knock of 68 off 40 balls, after Sohail Akhtar-led Qalandars elected to field.

Gayle, dropped twice on 20 and 31, brought up his maiden half-century in the competition’s history off 32 balls. He contributed a 101-run stand for the third wicket with captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.

Both batsmen came together when Gladiators were in a spot of bother after losing openers at the score of 12 in the third over. Sarfaraz, who demoted himself to number four after opening the innings in the opening match against Karachi Kings, scored a breezy 40 off 33, hitting five boundaries.

That Gladiators posted 178 for six was because of a late onslaught from Mohammad Nawaz. The all-rounder smashed an unbeaten 33 off 20 balls. His innings included one four and three sixes, where 31 runs were scored in last two overs of the innings.

For Qalandars, Haris Rauf, playing his first game in the tournament, was the pick of the bowlers with three for 38, while Ahmed Daniyal, Rashid Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi took a wicket each.

With Monday’s win, Lahore Qalandars, now at the top of the ladder, have won two from as many outings, while Quetta Gladiators are yet to open their account in this edition of HBL PSL and are placed at the bottom of the points table.