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LAHORE: As the battle for the prestigious SuperNova Trophy and yearlong bragging rights enters its final stage, Lahore will remain under spotlight for the entire week as the Gaddafi Stadium stages the much-anticipated matches of this year’s HBL-PSL edition.

In the Qualifier, Lahore Qalandars will face Multan Sultans on Wednesday (today). Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi will meet in the first Eliminator on Thursday and the team that loses will get knocked out of the event. The winner will face the loser of the Qualifier on Friday.

Lahore Qalandars have their tails up as they enter the Playoffs with seven wins. Never before they have won this many matches in the league stage of an HBL-PSL edition and the fact that they are the defending champions further adds to their confidence. They were the first team to book a Playoff berth.

This edition of the HBL-PSL has seen many records tumble. It has seen the highest successful run chase ever (when Multan Sultans chased down 243 against Peshawar Zalmi), the fastest century (by Multan Sultans’ Usman Khan off 36 balls), highest individual score (Jason Roy’s 145 not out), most centuries in an HBL PSL edition (seven) and highest-ever match aggregate in the history of T20 cricket of 515 in the match between Multan Sultans and Quetta Gladiators.

Table-toppers Lahore Qalandars have had a superb run at the Gaddafi Stadium and that this ground is hosting the final stage of the competition is bound to play in their favour. Fakhar Zaman, who was the highest run-getter in their successful campaign last year, has once again carried their batting. The left-hander is the top run-getter for Lahore Qalandars with 378 runs at a staggering strike rate of 171.04. Abdullah Shafique (193 at 144.02) has played impressive innings since his addition in the playing XI midway in the tournament and their overseas players in Sikandar Raza (198 runs at 188.57) and Sam Billings (179 runs at 146.72) have provided the firepower in the middle.

Lahore Qalandars captain Shaheen Afridi (14 wickets at an average of 18.78) leads an attack that is good enough to send chills down the spine of any opposition on any day. With Shaheen, Zaman Khan (12 wickets at 22.08) and Haris Rauf (14 wickets at 23.07) make a lethal pace attack that limits the opposition’s scoring options in both Powerplay and death and Rashid Khan’s wily spin keeps the batters guessing in the middle-overs.

Shaheen Afridi said, “We are very thankful to our fans on their continuous support. We have seen houseful matches in Home of Qalandars where the crowd turns out in large numbers to support us. We cannot wait to repay their faith with another title.”

For the first half of the HBL PSL 8, Multan Sultans dominated the points table by rolling over oppositions at their home. Though, they have faced more losses than wins since moving out of Multan, Mohammad Rizwan’s side will take heart from the fact that his batting chased down the highest ever HBL PSL and joint-second highest run-chase overall in T20 cricket, recorded the highest HBL PSL team total of 262 in their last group match. Multan Sultans finished second on the points table.

Their young pacers Abbas Afridi (22 wickets at 14.95) and Ihsanullah (20 wickets at 14.60) lead the bowling charts and they have taken the league by storm. They are two of the three bowlers this season to record a five-wicket haul, and Abbas stepped up brilliantly in the last two matches of the Rawalpindi leg to take nine wickets in two matches. Ihsanullah’s rapid pace and immaculate length bowling has made the life of the batter’s difficult throughout the HBL PSL 8. Leg-spinner Usama Mir (12 wickets at 25.41) has been instrumental in the middle-overs and has shown glimpses of how handy he can be as a tailender.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Abubakar Mar 15, 2023 09:24am
Inshallah lhr win
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