AB De Villiers led the charge with much needed support provided by David Wiese as Lahore Qalandars thrashed Multan Sultans by six wickets in their Pakistan Super League tie at Sharjah Cricket Stadium here on Friday. While De Villiers brought Lahore within nine runs of victory in the final over it was the lanky Wiese who smashed Dan Christian over long-off on the final delivery for a six — with four needed – to seal the victory. Lahore, chasing a daunting 201-run target, needed 70 off the last five overs as De Villiers, fired up by vociferous chants of “AB, AB”. He changed his shot in the last second, from a slog sweep towards fine-leg to left hander and guided fast bowler Junaid Khan over the third man boundary for a six in the 18th over. That shot was made possible on a free hit after Junaid overstepped while dismissing Wiese in the 18th over, changing the whole complexion of the match. That spoiled Junaid’s figures to 3-39 in four overs after he dismissed Lahore’s top-scorer Fakhar Zaman (35-ball 63 with three sixes and seven boundaries), Salman Butt (17) and Aghan Salman (two). De Villiers and Wiese hit a six each off West Indian Andre Russell in the penultimate over to bring down the target to just nine off six balls but Christian conceded six off the first five balls as tension mounted. But Wiese kept his nerves to hit the winning sixer. De Villiers finished with 29-ball 52 not out with three sixes and as many boundaries while Wiese scored a more aggressive undefeated 20-ball 45 with five sixes. The duo added 98 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket stand.
De Villiers said he was happy for his team. “I am pleased for my team,” said Lahore skipper. “I took my time and Wiese took pressure off me and it was a nice partnership. We were under pressure after ten overs but we showed a great attitude.” Multan skipper Shoaib Malik said the match was a treat for a holiday crowd. The win lifted Lahore to third spot (four points with two wins in four games) in the six-team table topped by Quetta (six points in three matches). Peshawar Zalmi have four points in three matches (two wins and a loss) while Multan are fourth, Islamabad United fifth and Karachi Kings sixth.
Multan Sultans also batted ruthlessly to post the sixth 200 plus total in all PSL as Vince knocked a fiery 41-ball 84 with seven boundaries and six hits over the ropes. Debutant Umar Siddiq hit 38-ball 53 with two sixes and four boundaries to take their team to a commanding 200-6. Multan were without their popular allrounder Shahid Afridi who is nursing a knee injury while Lahore welcomed Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichanne in their squad. Dan Christian hit two sixes and a boundary to score 10-ball 21 to give the impetus to the innings as Multan made 43 runs in the last five overs
Multan Sultans 200-6 (J. Vince 84, Umar Siddiq 53; S. Lamichanne 3-46)
Lahore Qalandars: 204-4 (Fakhar Zaman 63, AB de Villiers 52 no out, D. Wiese 45 not out; Junaid Khan 3-39).
Published in Daily Times, February 23rd 2019.