Shaheen Shah Afridi-led Lahore Qalandars became the first side ever to successfully defend the Pakistan Super League title, as they defeated Multan Sultans in a high scoring final on Saturday.
Skipper Shaheen produced an all-round performance scoring 44 not out off just 15 balls and claimed four wickets in the games as Qalandars won by just one run at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore.
Interestingly, both teams started the season with a thrilling game at the Multan Cricket Stadium, where Qalandar came on top with a one-run victory as well.
The entertaining final came down to the last over, where Multan required 13 runs, but Zaman Khan, the hero with the ball for the home side, held his nerves as he restricted the opposition to just 11 runs.
He ended up with the figures of 0-33 from his four overs, as the Sultans were restricted to 199/8 from their 20 overs.
Sultans started the run-chase with a bang as Usman Khan and captain Mohammad Rizwan put up a crisp show with the bat. They reached 41 in just 3.3 overs.
David Wiese provided the breakthrough in the shape of Usman’s wicket. The right-hander scored 18 off 12. His wicket did stop the run-flow for Sultans as Rilee Rossouw took on the Qalandars’ bowling attack.
The South African hit seven boundaries and two maximums for his half-century. He scored 52 off 34 balls before Rashid Khan cleaned him up in the 11th over. At that stage Sultans were 105/2.
Rizwan hit a couple of boundaries before Wiese took a stunning catch at the boundary to end his innings. The Wicketkeeper batter scored 34 off 23.
After their departure, Qalandars keep the run rate under control and kept on chipping wickets at regular intervals.
The major twist in the game came in the 19th over, when Abbas Afridi took on Haris Rauf and smashed him for 22 runs. However, his heroics with the bat were not enough to see the side through to the winning line.
He remained unbeaten on 17, while Khushdil Shah scored 25 off 12 balls.
Rashid Khan starred with the ball as he claimed figures of two for 26 from his four overs for the champions.
Earlier, the defending champions reached 200/6 in their allotted overs after winning the toss thanks to Abdullah Shafique, who went back to the hut after scoring a classy 65 off 40 deliveries, and skipper Shaheen, who remained unbeaten on 44 off 15 balls.
They went off to a brisk start thanks to Mirza Tahir Baig, who scored 30 off 18 deliveries in a 38-run stand with Fakhar Zaman.
Struggling Fakhar found his touch after the powerplay as he scored 39 off 34 balls before he was sent packing by Usama Mir, who put brakes on Qalandars as removed Sam Billings and Ahsan Hafeez in the 14th over. Usama claimed three wickets for 24 runs from his three-over spell.
Khushdil Shah in the next over added even more pressure on the Qalandars by cleaning up Sikandar Raza. At that stage, Qalandars were 112/5 in 15 overs.
However, the home side made a grand comeback thanks to a 66-run stand between Abdullah Shafique and Shaheen as Qalandars scored 85 runs in the last 30 balls of the innings and lost just one wicket.
Abdullah hit eight boundaries and two maximums for his 65 while, Shaheen struck two fours and five sixes for his unbeaten 44.
Shaheen finished the innings in style with a 22-run came off just eight balls with David Wiese, who scored just two.
The final was originally scheduled for Sunday, March 19. However, it was rescheduled for Saturday due to the possibility of rain.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Najam Sethi confirmed the news in a tweet on Thursday.
As far as head-to-head is concerned, Lahore and Multan have faced each other 16 times in the past with both teams winning eight matches each, so we can expect another tight contest in the final.
Both teams filed unchanged playing XIs in the title decider.
Lahore Qalandars: Fakhar Zaman, Tahir Baig, Abdullah Shafique, Sam Billings (wk), Ahsan Hafeez Bhatti, Sikandar Raza, Shaheen Afridi (c), David Wiese, Rashid Khan, Haris Rauf, and Zaman Khan.
Multan Sultans: Mohammad Rizwan (c & wk), Usman Khan, Rilee Rossouw, Kieron Pollard, Tim David, Khushdil Shah, Anwar Ali, Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Sheldon Cottrell, and Ihsanullah.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also praised Qalandars and the PSL administration for the event.
“A nail-biting finish to the 8th edition of Pakistan Super League. My appreciation is due to Chairman PCB, CMs of Sindh & Punjab, provincial administrations, police & the participating teams for making the event a huge success. Spectators kept it animated with their energy & zeal,” he said in a tweet.