By: Atif Amin
A Rematch of last season’s final provided a humdinger with the match going down to the wire as Zaman Khan held his nerve in the final over and claimed victory for the defending champions by a solitary run.
Sultans had won the toss and inserted Qalandars in. Having lost Harry Brook and Kusal Mendis to unavailability, they required a significant contribution from Fakhar, and he duly delivered. He struck up a 61-run opening stand with Qalandars’ academy product Mirza Baig, but while run-scoring proved a challenge from the other end, Fakhar motored along.
Sultans began to pick up regular wickets, while spinners Akeal Hosein and Usama Mir managed to sneak in eight economical overs, dragging the run rate back and slowly shifting momentum in their favour. But sloppiness at the death – both in the field and with the ball – proved costly with cameos from Sikandar Raza and Hussain Talat ensuring the last four overs yielded 45 runs.
Sultans’ chase began as you might expect, with Rizwan and Shan Masood shepherding them through the powerplay with ease, if not explosiveness. Rizwan’s timing and placement were particularly sweet as he picked up regular boundaries through the Powerplay off the pace, while expertly manipulating the field against the spin of Raza.
Sultans were in cruise control of the match by the 15th over of the match, however, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf returned and displayed high class of death bowling. They nailed their Yorkers perfectly to deny David Miller and Keiorn Pollard any freebies. Zaman was entrusted to bowl the final over of the innings in which he had to defend 15 with Khushdil and Pollard at the crease.
With 10 needed off the last 2 deliveries, Khushdil hitting the boundaries of both was enough for Qalandars to start their new season as they ended their last with a win over Sultans.
Fakhar Zaman was adjudged player of the match for his 66 off 42 deliveries.