Peshawar Zalmi won the race to make the best anthem for the sixth edition of the Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL) and Multan Sultans replaced their most successful captain Shan Masood with in-form Mohammad Rizwan, but nothing worked for the two side in their tournament openers.
Peshawar, led by Wahab Riaz and under the able coaching of Darren Sammy, were unable to thwart Lahore Qalandars’ form which the latter carried forward from the last edition.
After electing to field first, Lahore never looked back courtesy Shaheen Shah Afridi’s devastating four overs where he bagged three wickets, giving away only 14 runs to bag the player-of-the-match award.
With a manageable 140-run target to chase, Pakistan veteran Mohammad Hafeez and Afghan leggie Rashid Khan pushed the team past the finish line with four wickets intact.
Meanwhile, Multan didn’t have a bad day, but just a bad over, where veteran Sohail Tanvir went for 19 runs in the penultimate over with 20 needed from 12 balls in the match against Islamabad.
Lewis Gregory was the star of the show for Islamabad as he hit Tanvir in all directions to push Islamabad to victory.
With 151 to score for a win, Islamabad’s chase was weakened by all-rounder Shahid Afridi through his exceptional leg-spin bowling. However, Gregory was in no mood to go home with a defeat to his account and showed immaculate game-awareness by scoring of the experienced Tanvir to avoid taking the match to the last over.
With both sides now chasing a victory and two important points on the HBL PSL table, the clash between Wahab’s Peshawar and Rizwan’s Multan would be a mouth-watering one.
Key players for Peshawar
While it would be too early to predict the form of players as just one round of matches has taken place, the performances in the first match by some Peshawar cricketers has already made them key players.
Ravi Bopara was instrumental with the bat with his 50 coming from 44 balls, courtesy six fours, however, if he could only improve that strike rate, then Peshawar are in for a long victorious run in the HBL PSL6.
Shoaib Malik’s stabilising 26 off 24 at a crucial time when Peshawar had lost too many wickets was also an important highlight for the Zalmi, while Amad Butt’s quick-fire 23 off 11 also make him one to watch out for in the batting department.
For Peshawar, their best options in the bowling department are Pakistan veteran Wahab Riaz and England pacer Saqib Mahmod. Both bagged two wickets against Lahore, with Saqib giving away lesser runs than Wahab.
If Peshawar want to threaten other teams for the HBL PSL6 title, they would pray that this duo clicks whenever the teams needs it to.
Key players for Multan
A change of captain may not have brought luck for Multan, but their captaincy pick for sure delivered as promised.
Rizwan scored 71 off 53 balls against Islamabad to make a statement that he wasn’t made captain for nothing. A lot of people questioned his slow strike rate towards the end of his innings where he scored less than run-a-ball in the last 20 deliveries he faced, but his contribution was vital in team’s final score of 150-8.
Other than Rizwan, South African Rilee Rossouw and West Indian Carlos Brathwaite showed promise with their hitting, but Multan would be praying that they play longer innings next time.
In the bowling department, Multan looked weak with their frontline pacers showing lack of sting. Tanvir, Sohaibullah and Mohammad Umar were all erratic and went for too many runs without substantial results.
The only ray of hope was ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi, who couldn’t set the stadium alight with his batting, but returned with the ball and gave the limited number of fans a show worth their money. His two wickets in four overs for 24 runs showed that he has aged perfectly like wine and will play an important role for Multan in the upcoming matches.