Fakhar, Hafeez star in Lahore’s crushing nine-wicket win over Quetta

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Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez starred in Lahore Qalandars’ crushing nine-wicket win over Quetta Gladiators on Monday at National Stadium, Karachi.

Chasing a target of 179 runs, Sohail Akhtar and Fakhar Zaman got into groove straightaway and made a brisk start to the innings. The opening pair reached 48 at the end of powerplay without losing a wicket.

Quetta were banking on Zahid Mehmood to provide the breakthrough but Fakhar had other ideas as he deposited the spinner for back to back boundaries in his first over.

Zahid showed better control in his second over and deceived Akhtar with a wrong one to dismiss the Lahore captain for 21.

With Lahore needing 110 runs from last 10 overs, Fakhar and Hafeez decided to take on Zahid and mustered 13 runs in his third over. Fakhar led the charge for Lahore as he brought up his fifty in only 31 balls.

Rookie Saim Ayub will be rueing dropping the catch of Hafeez when he was at 24, as the veteran all-rounder hit the accelerator button after the missed chance. Hafeez kept dealing in boundaries as he brought Qalandars closer to the target by completing his fifty in just 24 balls.

Quetta pacers were unable to stop the carnage from Hafeez and Fakhar as the duo brought up a 100-run partnership in 53 balls.

Usman Shinwari conceded 37 runs in his last two overs as Lahore continued to race towards the target. Fakhar (82*) and Hafeez (73*) remained unbeaten with a 115-run partnership as the duo took Lahore over the line.

Earlier, a 101-run partnership between Chris Gayle and Sarfaraz Ahmed helped Quetta Gladiators reach 178-6. Lahore Qalandars decided to bowl first and were rewarded in the second over after Tom Banton (4) top-edged a delivery from Haris Rauf to third man.

Chris Gayle came in next and made his intentions clear with a boundary on the first ball. At the other end, Saim Ayub, who opened the innings in place of Sarfaraz Ahmed, tried to take on Shaheen Afridi but was caught at mid-on for 3.

Quetta needed their captain to step up and Sarfaraz was up to the task. Safaraz struck Shaheen for back to back boundaries in his first two balls at the crease.

Gayle got a life when he was batting at 20 as he was dropped at 20 by Agha Salman in the deep. Sarfaraz and Gayle combined to rebuild the Gladiators innings as they kept rotating the strike and hitting an odd boundary in every over.

It was clearly a lucky day for Gayle as he was dropped again by Agha Salman in the 11th over. Gayle made full use of the missed chances as he brought up his fifty in only 32 balls. Sarfaraz also joined the party by sweeping Rashid Khan for a four, to complete 100-run partnership with Gayle.

Lahore brought Rauf back in to the attack and the pacer broke the partnership by dismissing Sarfaraz for 40. Gladiators were dealt another blow in the next over as Rashid Khan clean bowled Gayle for 68.

Azam Khan and Mohammad Nawaz were the new batsmen at the crease as Quetta looked to build on the platform set by Gayle and Sarfaraz. Azam was caught at long on for 13, while trying to up the ante.

Nawaz took a particular liking to Shaheen, as he dispatched the left-arm pacer for two monstrous sixes. The left-handed all-rounder played a brisk 33-run knock from 20 balls to take Quetta to a competitive total.

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