CricViz analyst Kieran Parmley takes a look at the key events from the first game of Saturday’s double-header.
Defending champions Multan Sultans made it two wins from two games in PSL 7, after a highly dramatic chase of 206 saw them triumph over Lahore Qalandars. Shaheen Shah Afridi – on captaincy debut for Lahore – almost clawed his side back in the penultimate over of the contest, but a late flurry from all-rounder Khushdil Shah was enough to take Multan across the line.
Fakhar Sets the Tone
Given the chase-heavy nature of the National Stadium in the PSL – 17 of the last 18 games in Karachi have now been won by the chasing side the early focus of this season has been on how to approach setting a competitive target when batting first, with Babar Azam coming under particular scrutiny in the opening game. By contrast, his Pakistan teammate Fakhar Zaman showed enormous attacking intent from ball one, and his success offered an insight into both the true nature of today’s pitch and how batters should go about constructing their innings across the rest of the contest.
Fakhar attacked 64% of deliveries inside the Powerplay, scoring 47 off 19, his highest Powerplay score in the PSL. The proactive nature of his batting was on show early on, twice coming down the pitch to dispatch David Willey and Imran Khan for boundaries, preventing the new ball bowlers from dropping their lengths even with little swing on offer.
Significantly, his attacking shot percentage didn’t drop after the Powerplay either, instead rising to 68% as his onslaught continued. However, there was indication of how Lahore Qalandars would play the primary threat in the Multan bowling unit, with Fakhar electing to lower his intent and take singles when the leg spinner Imran Tahir came on to bowl. This would continue throughout the Lahore Qalandars innings, attacking just 48% of Tahir’s deliveries – this resulted in the former South African international forcing no false shots in his four over spell for just the second time in his PSL career.
Fakhar’s eventual 76 (25), alongside death over contributions from David Wiese (13* off 5) and Rashid Khan (17* off 4) produced an excellent total of 206-5. On paper, it was a “winning score”, considering the four other scores above 200 in Karachi in the PSL have all been defended.
A Tale of Two Death Overs
Multan Sultans followed the Fakhar way in their chase, getting off to a rapid start with a 150-run partnership between openers Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood. Again, there was noticeable slow down against the opposition’s key spinner Rashid Khan, who ended up with an astonishing 1-28 from his four overs.
However, the key contribution was from Lahore’s skipper. After seeing off Rashid, Multan Sultans still found themselves ahead of the game, needing 17 runs from 12 before Shaheen’s game changing 19th over. The left-arm quick elected to bowl his trademark aggressive, full lengths, honing in on the stumps of Tim David and Sohaib Maqsood, testing their ability against high pace. Sohaib Maqsood in particular was troubled, as you would expect – his strike rate of 98 against deliveries above 140kph is the second lowest among Pakistan batters to face 60+ such deliveries. Not only did Shaheen claim the wicket of both David and Maqsood, but he did so conceding just one run, leaving international teammate Haris Rauf with 16 runs to defend from the final over.
In a way, Rauf had a similar approach to Shaheen, attempting to go full but wide of the new batter at the crease, left-hander Khushdil Shah. However, it was nowhere near as successful, with Rauf’s over ending two balls early, failing to even once find the blockhole and doing so paying the cost involved in the fine margins of death bowling. Despite failing to nail his yorkers, some batters may have struggled against Rauf’s pace – this wasn’t the case for Khushdil , who boasts an outstanding strike rate of 162 against 140kph+ bowling, the opposite end of the spectrum to teammate Maqsood. His four consecutive boundaries were enough to carry Multan over the line today, but there is a case for the Sultans being slightly fortunate given the way they used their middle order – on another day, Shaheen’s quality would have seen Lahore over the line.
Kieran Parmley is an analyst at CricViz.