Shaheen Afridi's 5 for 4 ends Lahore's losing streak
A day after captain Brendon McCullum criticised his team's bowling performance, 17-year old left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi responded with a five-wicket haul to help Lahore Qalandars register their first win of the tournament
Lahore Qalandars 115 for 4 (McCullum 35*, Sadaf 27) beat Multan Sultans 114 (Sangakkara 45, Shaheen Afridi 5-4) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A day after captain Brendon McCullum criticised his team's bowling performance, 17-year old left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi responded with a five-wicket haul to help Lahore Qalandars prevail over table-toppers Multan Sultans by six wickets, and register their first win of the tournament. Afridi returned extraordinary figures of 3.4-1-4-5 to derail Multan, who had looked set for a 150-plus total at one point.
Lahore began their chase with a flourish, thanks to Anton Devcich (22 off 9 balls) and Fakhar Zaman, but soon lapsed into a more circumspect approach after they lost three wickets in successive overs. Led by Mohammad Irfan, Multan's fast bowlers kept up the pressure, but McCullum and Gulfraiz Sadaf weathered the nervy phase. Despite Sadaf's dismissal in the 16th over, Lahore made it over the line with eight balls to spare. McCullum also benefited from a pair of reprieves, being dropped twice (on 9 and 10) in consecutive overs by Saif Badar, and finished with an unbeaten, run-a-ball 35.
At the beginning, there was little to suggest that Multan had erred in opting to bat first. For one, there was Kumar Sangakkara, with a pronounced open stance, charging at and pulling the seamers with nonchalance. Two defining images of his dominance came off the last two balls of the sixth over, which he dispatched for fours. On the first occasion, Sangakkara skipped down the track to Mitchell McClenaghan, and meeting the ball on the full, drove it down the ground. McClenaghan responded with a short delivery, which was coolly swatted away over mid-wicket as Multan finished with 54 for no loss in the Powerplay. However, once Sunil Narine dismissed Sangakkara in the ninth over, the torrent of runs reduced to a trickle. Along with Narine, who finished with figures of 4-0-16-2, Yasir Shah and McClenaghan orchestrated the middle-over strangulation before the Afridi show began. As Afridi wiped out the middle and lower orders, Multan managed only 17 runs in their last five overs for the loss of seven wickets. Only three batsmen finished with double-digit scores.
Where the match was won
McCullum's decision to first hold back Afridi initially raised eyebrows, but it soon became apparent that he intended to bowl him out in one stretch at the death. Afridi didn't disappoint as he led a relentless assault against Multan's middle order. McCullum's gambit paid off on two counts, as Afridi kept down the scoring and picked up wickets in a flurry.
The men that won it
Once he was introduced in the 14th over, Afridi made an immediate impact by hustling Multan captain Shoaib Malik and his partner Sohaib Maqsood with pace, and ended up conceding only two runs. Having come into this game with no wickets to show for in his young T20 career, Afridi would multiply his gains in his next over to prise out three wickets in four balls. After Malik holed out to deep midwicket. Ross Whitely was defeated by a 142kph yorker as Afridi found himself on a hat-trick. Badar survived the hat-trick but chipped a catch to short cover. Empowered by McCullum's aggressive fields, Afridi returned to pick up two wickets off two balls in the last over. While Afridi deservedly earned the spotlight, Narine and McCullum played fine supporting roles in Lahore's win.
Where they stand
The result did not alter the standings as Multan continued to remain on top of the table with nine points from eight games. Despite finally opening their account, Lahore continued to occupy the last spot.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun