In a nutshell
This was less a match than an incisive analysis of Lahore Qalandars’ weakness. In an amateur, unthinking batting display, Lahore 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 found a way to break in. The first five overs fetched 50, the next 15 fetched 59, and the hollowness of Lahore’s 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, Quetta played as they wanted. 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
Lahore were playing a high-risk game. The result hinged on how long they could sustain that intensity. It was crucial for Quetta to strike early, and Narine’s wicket in the fourth over proved vital. Fakhar Zaman couldn’t repeat his heroics from Friday, spooning a return catch to Jofra Archer for one, and a clever review to effect a McCullum lbw saw Lahore lose their top three within 11 balls of each other. With the big three out of the way, Quetta’s stranglehold on the game was virtually invincible.
The men that won it
Last year, Lahore nearly defended 59 in a thrilling game they eventually lost by three wickets. A target of 120 could have been tricky, but Shafiq and Watson stomped on Lahore’s hopes. A wicketless Powerplay was followed by the pair finally letting loose, Watson responsible for much of the carnage as he stormed to 50 in just 28 balls. By the time he was dismissed for 66, his side were merely 28 runs away from victory, and the contest was all but over.
Mohammad Nawaz would have been perfectly happy with not bowling in the Powerplay overs, but when he did come on, he couldn’t have been much better. Nawaz’s introduction dried up the singles altogether. Bowling a tight, unrelenting line and varying his pace adroitly, Nawaz rendered the the batsmen helpless. In a stunning four-over spell, he accounted for the dangerous McCullum and Cameron Delport, conceding just four runs – the most economical spell ever in the PSL.
Moment of the match
Watson is a seasoned T20 professional, and his pride would have taken a dent when Narine took him to task in the third over of Lahore’s innings, walloping him for three fours and two sixes in an over that cost 24 – the most expensive at this year’s PSL so far. Quietly, he began plotting his revenge, and finally pounced in the seventh over of the Gladiators innings. With Narine bowling, Watson hit him for two sixes and two boundaries, and took 21 off his over to give the West Indian a taste of his own medicine.
Where they stand
Lahore Qalandars are rock bottom of the table with two losses from two. Quetta have won one and lost the other, and are placed fourth.