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|AB de Villiers||45||40||2||0||112.50|
Lahore Qalandars finally managed to get something going for them in the Pakistan Super League as they scripted the second-highest chase in the history to the tournament to get into the top half of the ladder. The manner of their win must have raised the hope and expectations of their fans from them. The timing of their win couldn't have been better as the confidence and momentum gained could be of immense value when they take on Quetta Gladiators in their next fixture at Sharjah tomorrow. With Quetta Gladiators in rampaging form at the moment and Lahore Qalandars rejuvenated by an inspiring performance set to meet, the upcoming promises to be a cracker of a cricket match.
After a terrible tournament so far and a poor history to add to it, Qalandars' victory over Sultans in the recently concluded game has certainly answered a lot of questions. They're up to the second spot in the points table, if we disregard the net run rate, and have a realistic chance to join Quetta Gladiators at the top in their next fixture.
The Qalandars found their hero who wasn't expected to be one - Sandeep Lamichhane, the eighteen over sensational leg-spinnier from Nepal. He single-handedly helped Qalandars restrict Sultans to 200, which at one stage was projected to be well over 220. He was welcomed with fierce hitting from James Vince but soon bounced back by picking up three important wickets including that of Andre Russell. It was, however, a disappointing day for the rest of their bowlers.
With some tight bowling towards the end of the first innings, Qalandars definitely robbed Sultans with at least some of the momentum. Fakhar Zaman came out all guns blazing and slammed an enterprising half-century before panicking with the asking rate rising up. With required-rate close to 14 an over, Lahore Qalandars found a man who is known to thrive in such situations - AB de Villiers. With excellent assistance from his Protean team-mate, David Wiese, AB de Villiers launched Sultans' bowlers into the orbit as the required-rate started to get within the reach. Needing three off the last ball to win, David Wiese sealed the fate of the match with a well-timed six to power Qalandars back into the contention. Brendan Taylor, who sustained a calf injury towards the end of the match, isn't likely to feature in the next match which and bringing in a like-for-like replacement might be a cause of concern for Qalandars' management.
F Zaman, Sohail Akhtar, AB de Villiers, Corey Anderson, D Wiese, Gauhar Ali, Sandeep Lamichhane, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Rahat Ali, Salman Butt.
Without a doubt, Quetta Gladiators have been the best side in the tournament thus far. They are not only leading the points table, but they are also doing it with utter dominance. They have kept up with the tag of the most consistent side in PSL and will be looking to continue building on the fabulous run they're having in the tournament.
They are coming into the match on the back of a dominating win over the defending champions Islamabad United. Bowling first on a decent batting surface, Sohail Tanvir wrecked United's top order with a double strike in his first over. After taking the advantage in the powerplay, it was Fawad Ahmed's turn to put pressure on the United batsmen as he picked up three important wickets to stifle their match. However, the Gladiators will be a little concerned with the performance of their other bowlers as United still managed to crawl their way to 157, a respectable total by all standards, which looked almost impossible at one stage in time.
Islamabad United started off well with the ball, but the advantage was soon nullified by the combination of Umar Akmal and Shane Watson as the Gladiators chased down the total with considerable ease. Against Sultans, they continued from where they left against the United as their chase felt almost like the replica of the one against the United. Chasing 161, Shane Watson anchored the innings beautifully and with superb support from Rossouw, who had so far been quiet in the tournament, the Gladiators overhauled the total with eight wickets and plenty of deliveries to spare.
SR Watson, Ahsan Ali, Umar Akmal, Rilee Rossouw, Sarfraz Ahmed, Dwayne Smith, Mohammad Nawaz, Ghulam Mudassar, S Tanvir, Anwar Ali, Fawad Ahmed.
Considering the standings of the two teams at the points table at this point, the upcoming fixture appears more of a mismatch. However, given the way Lahore Qalandars chased down a mammoth total in their last match and the nature of the shortest format of the game, the possibility of a Qalandars win cannot be ruled out. Having said that, Quetta Gladiators are on a roll at the moment and even though they've done almost everything right, they appear to be increasing their dominance with every passing game. With Shane Watson, Umar Akmal, and Rilee Rossouw in fine form and the momentum at their disposal, the Gladiators are firm favorites to emerge on top in the upcoming encounter.
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