Finally the Lahore Qalandars announced their presence in the Pakistan Super League as dashing batsman Umar Akmal hit form to anchor their big 63-run win over hitherto unbeaten Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League on Monday.
Umar smashed 40-ball 93 with eight towering sixes and six boundaries to lead Lahore Qlanadars to 194-3 in their must-win third match at Dubai stadium.
Gladiators needed Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen to score big for a successful chase but both perished by the sixth over despite both getting good chances.
Wright was dropped on one when left-armer Zafar Gohar juggled a dolly return catch but the spinner had the last laugh when Wright holed out in the deep. That followed Ahmed Shehzad’s dismissal for 15, bowled by Kevan Cooper.
Cooper then came into acts, catching Wright and KP in succession. Pietersen hit a staright six in his seven-ball 12 before Dwayane Bravo had him caught in the deep.
But despiute the twin loss, Mohammad Nawaz (42 off 34) and Sarfraz Ahmed (19-ball 31 with three fours and six) added 74 runs for the fourth wicket to raise some hopes of Gladiators’ win. When Sarfraz wa stumed off left-armer Zohaib Khan in the 13th over Quetta still needed 84 in the last 7.2 overs.
Nawaz, who hit three fours and a six in Hammad Azam’s tenth over of the innings, fell in the next Ajantha Mendis over to leave Quetta’s chances in doldrums.
Zafar Gohar was the pick of the bowlers with 4-14 while Mendis took 3-17 as Quetta folded for 131 in 16.2 overs.
Lahore had started the match on a wrong foot when dashing West Indian Chris Gayle was ruled out with a back problem. But despite the jolt the detemrined Lahore Qalanadars made a good start after being sent into bat by Quetta captain Sarfraz Ahmed on the same strip which has been used for the last four days.
Cameroon Delport, who made 55-ball 73 with three sixes and eight boundaraies put on 62 for the first wicket as they looked set to post the highest total of the PSL so far.
Ali made 20 and his departure allowed Umar to take the center stage.
But the dashing Pakistan batsman could have been out off the first ball he faced but Sarfraz failed to catch a difficult chance leaving left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar disgruntled. Umar also survived a confident leg-before appeal in that same over.
But the two reprieves helped Umar to build on, hitting glorious shots at will. Umar hit the fastes half centuryt of the league which came off just 22 balls. He took 19 off the penultimate over bowled by Umar Gul and looked set for league’s first century. But he holed out in the deep off Anwar Ali just seven short.
The league moves to different venue of Sharjah on Wednesday after a day’s rest.