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LAHORE: Defending Champion Multan Sultans qualified for the HBL-PSL-7 final, as they outclassed Lahore Qalandars by 28 runs in the first playoffs here at Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

This was the 10th victory of the season out of 11 matches. Lahore Qalandars won the toss and opted to field.

Batting first, Multan Sultans scored 163 for the loss of two wickets. In reply, Lahore Qalandars scored 135 for 9 in 20 overs. Qalandars would get another chance to make it to the finals and take on Multan as they would be up against the winner of first eliminator match between Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United in the second qualifier.

Lahore Qalandars were off to a slow start in their chase to 164 and their batsmen struggled to find opportunities to hit freely. However, opener Fakhar Zaman gave Qalandars hope and they were looking to cruise through the match at one stage but a middle-order collapse by Sultans bowlers dashed their hopes.

Fakhar also broke the record of most runs in a single edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). Fakhar has scored 584 runs so far this year with an average of 53.09 and strike rate of 155.73. He has smashed 20 sixes and 53 boundaries this season, as well. With at least one game in hand, Fakhar is poised to break the 600-run barrier for a single edition, as well.

In today’s match, Fakhar hit 63 runs off 45 deliveries. He also hit three consecutive sixes to Imran Tahir in the 12th over. Overall, he hit four sixes and two boundaries in his innings.

Kamran Ghulam with his 20 runs was the other main contributor as no other batsmen could rise to the occasion to give a helping hand to Fakhar. Lahore Qalandars finished their innings on 135-9 in allotted 20 overs.

Shahnawaz Dahani took three wickets giving away just 19 runs. David Willey took 2-23, while Asif Afridi, Khushdil Shah and Rumman Raees all took one wicket apiece.

Earlier, Lahore Qalandars bowlers bowled superbly and did not give room to Sultans batsmen to hit freely. Especially Mohammad Hafeez was exceptional who gave 16 runs in his 4 overs and took one wicket. Hafeez also completed his 200 T20 wickets in the process.

Sultans’ innings began to a rocky start as Hafeez struck on the first ball of his first over, which was the second over of the Sultans innings, to remove inform Shan Masood as Sultans lost their first wicket for three runs. Shan could score only two runs off five balls.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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