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Pakistan Super League - 8 (PSL-8) 2023

Eliminator 2 (N), Lahore, March 17, 2023,

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(18.5/20 overs, T:172) 176/6


Baig, Zaman dazzle to take Lahore Qalandars to third PSL final in four seasons​

Haris, Babar inspire Zalmi to 171, but the total was chased down comfortably by an all-round Qalandars unit

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool

In the first four years of the PSL, the Lahore Qalandars squad would have been on holiday, or back home in front of the telly by this stage of the competition. But those dark days are a distant memory now, with the defending champions sweeping past a valiant challenge from Peshawar Zalmi by four wickets to book their spot in their third final in four years.

It was very much a collective team effort, with a clinical bowling performance keeping Zalmi to 171 in spite of a blistering 54-ball 85 from Mohammad Haris. The chase, too, was down to several cameos from the top and middle order, all threaded together around a half-century by Mirza Baig. Zalmi dragged the Qalandars to the final two overs, but in truth, Shaheen Afridi's men were always one step ahead.

Zalmi opted to bat at the toss, fully cognisant that the Qalandars were yet to win chasing this season, and no chasing side had triumphed yet at the Gaddafi Stadium this year. Saim Ayub was cleaned up early by Zaman Khan, but Babar Azam and Haris struck up an imposing partnership to set a platform. Haris was in superb striking form once more, a six and a four off the first three balls he faced from Shaheen a statement of intent. Babar joined in from the other end and by the end of the powerplay, Zalmi had put up 54, set up to go bigger.

Babar failed to take the next step up, though, and his strike rate stalled. Haris Rauf was hard to get away in the middle overs, but Haris clobbered Rashid Khan for 14 in his first over to keep Qalandars under pressure. Even Babar went after Rashid with a pair of boundaries to kick off his second. But Rashid hit back, taking two wickets in his third, breaking the stand with Babar's wicket and removing Tom Kohler-Cadmore for a duck. And while Haris continued to club away, plundering another 13 off Rashid's final over, the runs from the other end were drying up.

Shaheen had held Haris back for three overs at the death, and Zalmi found him difficult to get away. David Wiese's variations in pace, too, proved tricky to attack, while, crucially, Shaheen nabbed Haris off the final ball of his spell. The young Zalmi batter had kept his strike rate up, but as he departed for 85, Zalmi's momentum was ebbing away. Haris said at the halfway mark that the 171 they had posted was well above par, but the Qalandars weren't to be fooled.

Baig got the Qalandars running with a six in the first over, but Zalmi had a huge breakthrough immediately. Fakhar Zaman swung and missed as Azmatullah Omarzai hit middle stump, and rookie allrounder Azmat Hafeez departed soon after following a breezy 15. Abdullah Shafique, too, was only at the crease for a short while, contributing a 31-run stand with Baig before a mix up ran him out.

But Zalmi might have been lulled into a false sense of security with these regular breakthroughs. The Qalandars didn't have a huge individual scorer a la Haris, or one big stand like the Babar-Haris partnership, but these small cameos and gritty partnerships were furtively knocking off the runs. Sam Billings and Baig put on 50 in 28 balls to guarantee the run rate was no longer an issue before Baig feathered one through off Aamer Jamal, but the match situation was set up perfectly for finishers like Billings and Sikandar Raza.

They wouldn't be there till the very end, but they got close enough. There was a 28-run partnership, and a 28-ball 21 for Billings complemented by 23 off 14 from Raza. Both had their stumps knocked back with the Qalandars still a trickle of runs away, but the dam Zalmi had set up in defence of their total had finally burst.

The coup de grace was delivered, in style, by the Qalandars' swaggering young captain, a wallop over mid-on followed by a lofted straight drive for six by Shaheen Afridi to seal the win. He held that Adonis-like pose for exaggerated effect as the Qalandars booked their spot in the final, a repeat of last year's trophy match between the defending champions and Multan Sultans. He may yet go on to hold the trophy once more.
Lahore Qalandars has won the PSL8 Final beating Multan Sultan by 1 Run in a nail biting Final...

The 5 winners of PSL8

Here are the players that lit up the tournament with their individual exploits.
Taha Anis
March 19, 2023

Lahore Qalandars became the first team to win back-to-back Pakistan Super League (PSL) titles but many players across the tournament can be proud of their efforts even if their teams fell short.

Here are five players who achieved great personal heights in this edition and can look back fondly at their own exploits in it.

Shaheen Shah Afridi​


Shaheen becoming the first captain to lift the Pakistan Super League trophy twice is a testament to his incredible leadership and cricketing skills.

That he has done it in consecutive seasons to help Lahore become the first champion to defend their title at the tender age of 22 is even more incredible. That he has done it when he is yet to be eliminated from the tournament is him just rubbing it in our faces that this is his world and we are only living in it. And since it is his world, cricket’s best left-arm pacer has pretty much decided that he fancies himself as an all-rounder now.

If anyone feels like disagreeing, they can argue with his 44 off 15 deliveries with the bat and four wickets with the ball in the final. Shaheen’s blistering knock brought his side inspired his side to 200 when it looked like they might struggle to reach 150 before he registered the best-ever figures in a PSL final with the ball.

Imad Wasim​


It seems strange to include the captain of the tournament’s biggest disappointment in the list of winners, but Imad really highlighted the ridiculousness of dropping him from the national side with match-changing performances with both bat and ball.

The left-hander smashed 404 runs with the bat at an average of 134.66 and a strike rate of 170.46.

Not satisfied with being the tournament’s fifth-highest run-scorer, Imad also finished as his side’s joint top wicket-taker and only three bowlers in the entire league gave away runs at a lower rate while taking as many wickets as Imad’s nine.

At least some of the blame for Karachi Kings’ woeful performances can be laid at the feet of Imad the captain but Imad the player was nearly flawless in the tournament.

Imad’s performances in PSL8 made his case so forcefully that he has been recalled to the Pakistan squad, a decision that should have always been a no-brainer considering he is the country’s best finisher with the bat and only Rashid Khan has a better economy in T20I cricket among active bowlers.



The pacer had a final to forget, suffering a meltdown of dramatic proportions in the last over he bowled in his breakout tournament, but boy was it a breakout tournament to remember.

The fiery right-hander finished as the tournament’s second-highest wicket-taker with 22 wickets behind his Multan teammate Abbas Afridi who took one wicket more. Ihsanullah was the clear star of the Multan bowling line-up though, with his economy rate of 7.59 nearly two runs an over better than Abbas’s 9.45.

Ihsanullah was the tournament’s best bowler after Rashid Khan, which is no shame at all, and his exploits at the tournament have already earned him a call-up to the national side.

A remarkable achievement for a 20-year-old bowler who had bowled just 141 deliveries in his entire T20 career before this PSL.

The Swat-born pacer became not only the youngest player of the tournament in PSL history but also the first bowler to ever win the award.

Muhammad Rizwan​


After finishing as the second-highest scorer in the last two editions, Rizwan managed to reach the pinnacle this time around. The Multan skipper would be thoroughly sick of the sight of Lahore through — two final defeats against Qalandars preventing the right-hander from winning four PSL titles in a row.

Rizwan has scored 500 or more runs in each of the last three PSL editions since becoming Multan Sultans captain. The achievement is put into perspective by the fact that all other batsmen across eight editions combined have only managed to breach that 500-run mark as many times as Rizwan has on his own in the past three editions.

He will be left to rue his brain fade against Rashid in the final, holing out to long-on when the game was there to be won, but he can hold his head high besides that.

Rizwan was inspirational as both batsman and captain as he guided Multan to their third consecutive final under his leadership.

Babar Azam​


The Pakistan skipper is head and shoulders above everyone else on the list of run-getters in PSL history — his tally of 2,935 runs is more than 500 runs ahead of Fakhar Zaman’s tally of 2,368 in second place.

Yet it seemed that Babar had a point to prove this time around after being forced out of Karachi Kings and seeing his leadership and batting questioned by his former franchise teammates.

Babar scored 522 runs in the tournament, dwarfing the combined efforts of Shoaib Malik (200) and Haider Ali (109) — the two players Karachi brought in to replace him. That he did so at a better strike rate than Malik, Haider, and Mathew Wade — the other platinum batsman in the King’s side — must have been particularly satisfying for Babar considering Kings were eager to point to his slow batting as a reason for their poor performances last year.

Even more satisfying would have been the stark contrast in fortunes of the two sides as Kings suffered a second successive group-stage exit while Peshawar were only knocked out of the tournament by eventual winners Lahore in the second eliminator.

Abbas Afridi​


It is bizarre for someone to finish as the tournament’s highest wicket-taker but still be considered only the third-best bowler of their side, yet Abbas Afridi may consider himself to be in that one-man boat after seeing Ihsanullah and Usama Mir earn most of the plaudits.

The 21-year-old will never capture the public’s attention in a country obsessed and blessed with pacey fast bowlers, but he has proven himself to be a canny operator and does not shy away from bowling when the pressure is at its highest.

Abbas’s economy of 9.45 was the worst of any bowler with more than 10 wickets, but there is no doubting his wicket-taking ability and his strike-rate of a wicket every 10.2 deliveries was the best for any bowler who bowled more than four overs. If he can build on the 17-not-out he scored off six deliveries in the final, then there is a fast-bowling all-rounder spot in the Pakistan side that he can pretty much walk into.

Two Afridis combining to score 62 runs off 21 deliveries in the final is just a wonderful quirk that Pakistan fans would love to emulate in the national side.

Photos by Pakistan Super League/Twitter
Awesome tournament, the opening match and the final had many similarities such as:
  • Lahore vs Multan
  • Lahore batted first
  • Multan chased
  • Went to last ball
  • Zaman Khan bowled last over
  • Khushdil as batsman in last over
  • A run out in last over
  • Lahore won by 1 run
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