Rufus Bullough looks at match nine of the PSL and how a Fakhar inspired batting performance proved too much for Peshawar Zalmi.
With Fakhar Zaman in such excellent form, a tantalising match up between him and fellow Pakistan international Wahab Riaz was on the cards. Riaz has had the better of the pairs previous exchanges, dismissing Fakhar three times in just 33 balls, but Fakhar comes into the match as the competition’s form player having struck 181 runs from his first two knocks. Of the five batters to have scored more than 400 PSL Powerplay runs, none have done so at a higher strike rate than Fakhar.
Fakhar reached 50 off just 28 balls, which was his third fastest in the PSL. He was particularly brutal square of the wicket, with just 2% of his first 50 runs coming down the ground or in the ‘V’ behind square.
Fakhar was eventually dismissed for 66 and but Peshawar were unable to put the squeeze on after the wicket fell, conceding nine and ten runs of the following overs – failing to create any meaningful pressure on the Lahore batting order.
Up until the death overs, Zalmi’s seamers bowled incredibly short, and had far more success when they pitched the ball up and bowled a good length. In the death overs the bowlers plans changed and they tried to rectify their mistakes by bowling far more full deliveries, but those full pitched deliveries ended up going at 12 rpo from overs 16-20.
Arguably, Peshawar Zalmi got their bowling plans the wrong way round, and should have bowled fuller earlier on, bringing their length back at the death and bowling more slower balls into the pitch. Their death overs plan instead played into the hands of players like Rashid Khan.
After the break, Shaheen struck with just the third ball of the innings. Shaheen is primarily considered to be a big swinger of the new ball, and while he does often find prodigious swing in the first two overs of his spell, what often gets overlooked is the amount of seam movement that he also finds when he bowls. Since the start of 2020, in the first four overs of the T20 innings, no bowler has bowled a higher percentage (44%) of deliveries with a large amount of seam movement than Shaheen (Over 0.75°)
Kamran Akaml decided to take on Rashid Khan in his first over, making use of the Powerplay fielding restrictions. This intent was admirable as the experienced Akmal knew that he to take Rashid on if they had any chance of reaching their target of 200. Akmal took 15 of Rashid’s first four deliveries, and justified his excellent career strike rate of 147 against spin and his career strike rate of 161 against leg-spin. He took on his match up, and it paid off for Zalmi who reached 48/1 after the Powerplay and stayed in touch with the run-rate. Of the 91 players to have scored 400+ runs against leg-spin in T20’s only Chris Gayle has a higher strike rate (186) than Akmal. He is one of the best and most consistent spin hitters of all time in T20 cricket.
At 61-1, Zalmi had set a decent platform from which their middle order could fire later in the innings with WinViz giving them an outside chance at 24%. Two wickets in two balls from Zaman Khan, dismissing both set batsmen, halted their progress dramatically and shoved them down to just 8% chance of winning.
Zalmi’s innings never really recovered after that, finding themselves 89/4 when Sherfaine Rutherford came to the crease. He made a few quick runs but ultimately it was too little too late as the Zalmi fell 29 runs short, finishing on 170-9.
Rufus Bullough is an analyst at CricViz