In a nutshell
This was less a match than an incisive analysis of the weaknesses of the Lahore Qalandars side. In an amateur, unthinking batting display, the Qalandars whimpered to 119 against the Quetta Gladiators, who in turn felt no need to take any risks, and waltzed to the target with nine wickets and six overs to spare.
The Qalandars were put in to bat, and Brendon McCullum, opening with Sunil Narine, gave their side the best possible start. Narine smashed Shane Watson for 24 runs in an over as Lahore raced to 45 in the first three overs. McCullum was timing the ball beautifully too, but as soon as Narine fell, Quetta’s bowlers ripped the Qalandars apart. Fakhar Zaman was dismissed for one, and after McCullum was trapped in front, Lahore began to hobble. Only 42 runs were scored off the last 13 overs, and the hollowness of the Qalandars middle order was on full display yet again.
Watson was in devastating form, and Asad Shafiq at the other end was the perfect foil to him. Even though the pair took no unnecessary risks – just 41 were scored in the first six – Watson was just warming up. He took Narine for 21 runs in the seventh over, and from thereon Sarfraz Ahmed’s men were coasting. With scoreboard pressure non-existent, the Gladiators were free to play as they wanted, and in the end, the straight drive that sealed the win was a merciful end to a rotten day for Lahore.
Where the match was won
With Lahore Qalandars having blitzed their way to 45 inside three overs, the explosiveness of their fabled top order was showing the desired effect. However, they were playing a high-risk game, and how long they could stretch the fireworks would go a long way towards determining the winner of the match. It was crucial that the Gladiators strike early, and Narine’s wicket in the fourth over proved vital in beginning to turn the tide. Fakhar Zaman couldn’t repeat his heroics from yesterday, spooning a return catch to Jofra Archer for one, and a clever review to effect a McCullum lbw saw Qalandars lose their top three within 11 balls of each other. Their middle order isn’t quite up to the standard required for a team in the PSL, and with the big three out of the way, Quetta’s stranglehold on the game was virtually invincible.
More to follow