The Sunday Mail
Lahore Qalandars failed to make it into Sunday’s Pakistan Super League final, as the defending champions went down by 84 runs to the fearsome Multan Sultans on Wednesday.
West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard put up a masterful performance with bat and ball as his 57 runs off 34 balls helped the Sultans to 160 runs for five after skipper Mohammed Rizwan had won the toss and elected to bat.
The 35-year-old Trinidadian then chipped in with a wicket as the Sultans’ powerful bowling attack skittled out the Qalandars for 76 runs.
The win saw Multan Sultan stroll into the PSL final, and get three extra rest days beforehand.
The good news for Sikandar Raza and his Lahore Qalandars teammates is that they will get yet another crack at qualification into the final as they will face the winner of the second qualifier between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi in Thursday afternoon’s eliminator.
Still, the 84-run defeat is most likely to have left Qalandars’ head coach Aqib Javed with plenty to ponder over, especially as it pertains to his team’s batting.
While Javed has one of the most potent bowling attacks in the tournament, led by the trio of skipper Shaheed Shan Afridi, Rashid Khan and Haris Rauf, it is his batting department that has been found wanting.
Never was that more apparent than during the 84-run defeat to Multan Sultans.
Qalandars did just about enough to restrict Multan Sultan’s batting power as the former champions could only amass 45 runs during the powerplay and were in full control of the innings during the first 15 overs.
It took the intervention of Sultans’ middle-order batters Pollard and Tim David (22) for the former champions to reach a mildly competitive score of 160.
The two combined for a crucial fourth-wicket partnership that saw the two score 65 runs off 38 balls, with Pollard demonstrating some of the hard-hitting prowess that has seen him become one of the most lethal batters in all of T20 cricket.
In response, Qalandars’ batting line-up never seemed to settle, as Sam Billings (19), David Wiese (12) and Rauf (15) managed to reach double-digit figures.
Even the usually reliable Raza, who has rescued his team once during this campaign, failed to take off as he only lasted three balls for his one run.
It turned out to be a Caribbean affair as Pollard’s fellow countryman, Sheldon Cottrell, turned out to be the pick of the Sultan bowlers, finishing the match with three wickets for 20 runs.