Lahore Qalandars progress to qualifier despite Super Over defeat

Shaheen shines at the death; Zalmi will face Islamabad United in the first Eliminator

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
Shoaib Malik pulls stylishly, Lahore Qalandars vs Peshawar Zalmi, PSL 2022, Lahore, February 21, 2022

Shoaib Malik sealed victory for Peshawar Zalmi in the Super Over  •  PSL

Peshawar Zalmi 158 for 7 (Fawad 2-26) tied with Lahore Qalandars 158 for 8 (Hafeez 49, Afridi 39*) - Zalmi won after Super Over
It looked as if a lacklustre chase from Lahore Qalandars would doom them to defeat in this season's final group stage game against Peshawar Zalmi, but a scarcely credible blitz from Shaheen Shah Afridi got them through to a Super Over. He thwacked an unbeaten 39 off 20 balls, including 23 in the final over and six off the last ball, to take his side there, but that was as good as it got for the Qalandars. A splendid Super Over with the ball from Zalmi skipper Wahab Riaz saw the Qalandars manage just five, and Shoaib Malik put away the first two Afridi balls of the chase for boundaries, wrapping up a win that should have been Zalmi's half an hour earlier, but ensuring they take momentum with them into the Eliminator against Islamabad United on Thursday.
Until the thrilling finish, it seemed that a brace of top-order wickets from Arshad Iqbal had broken the Qalandars' resistance to allow Zalmi to cruise towards their fourth successive win. A handful of cameos with the bat had helped them post a target of 159, and a Qalandars side which appeared less than fully engaged in what was effectively a dead rubber never maintained the tempo required for the chase.
Mohammad Hafeez may have top scored in the chase with 49 off 44, but for the bulk of his innings, he failed to ensure his side was on top of the asking rate. With the big hitters failing to fire, the requirement kept ballooning to the point where the Qalandars needed 24 off the final over.
Shaheen smashed a four and two sixes, and suddenly the Qalandars were back within seven of victory, only for a couple of dot balls from Mohammad Umar to take it down to the death. His final ball was in the slot, Shaheen pumped it over long-on for a huge six, and a Gaddafi crowd that had begun to filter out stormed back in for the one-over shootout.
Coming into the game, both sides were assured passage to the next round, and barring a heavy defeat, the Qalandars were guaranteed to get two bites at the cherry. They ensured that remained the case despite defeat in a game where the lack of intensity was palpable for much of the contest. Malik top-scored for Zalmi with 32 off 28, with five of the top six reaching double figures. The electric Mohammad Haris was the only one who fell short, his Qalandars namesake Haris Rauf dismissing him in the second over, while Fawad Ahmed, playing his first game this season, was the pick of the crop, taking 2 for 26 in his allotted four.
Fakhar Zaman fell off the first ball, just the second time all tournament he departed early. The other occasion came against Karachi Kings two days ago, and as on that day, the Qalandars' ability to hunt down a target melted away. No one was able to replace him nearly as effectively, and at one point the Qalandars went almost seven full overs without a boundary.
Right up until the frenetic final two overs, Zalmi's discipline with the ball was excellent, with Wahab, Amad Butt and Khalid Usman all keeping the Qalandars on a leash. There was plenty of sloppiness in the field though, to the chagrin of an increasingly agitated Wahab, though for the best part, it appeared as if it wouldn't make a difference to the outcome.
Shaheen's belligerence, though, meant the game with little riding on it turned into something of a cult classic. The high of that glorious final-ball six, though - after which Shaheen held his arms aloft in that iconic pose usually reserved for a top-order wicket - was followed by a flat Super Over. It wasn't the result that mattered tonight, but the entertainment, and Shaheen had ensured, belatedly, there was enough of that to sate a nearly full house.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000