DUBAI - Courtesy to Umar Akmal and Zafar Gohar, Lahore Qalandars beat Quetta Gladiators by 63 runs to register their first win in the tournament here at Dubai International Stadium on Monday.
Akmal’s bat gave the ball a real beating and led his team Lahore Qalandars to score 195 runs – the highest so far in the tournament – against Quetta Gladiators in the eighth match of Pakistan Super League (PSL).
After winning the toss, Gladiators captain Sarfraz Ahmed chose to field first, but the decision totally went against his strategies as Qalandars openers, Azhar Ali and Cameron Delport kept their calm and played off first six risky overs without losing any wicket.
This was enough time for Delport to stretch his arms, he began to take Gladiators bowlers when Azhar Ali left the crease with 20 in the bag.
He was then joined by Akmal who came in and changed the whole face of the game. Akmal first completed his (also PSL fastest) fifty in just 22 balls and then went to capitalise on it. Akmal, with 8 gigantic sixes and 6 fours in his innings, scored 93 of just 40 balls.
Delport emerged as the next big hitter who scored superb 73 runs off 55 balls. His innings included 8 fours and 3 sixes. Azhar made 20 runs. Dwayne Bravo scored 5 runs while Hamad Azam was not out without adding anything to the scoreboard. Anwar Ali, Zulfiqar Babar and Umer Gul took one wicket each for Quetta Gladiators.
Gladiators in reply were quite defensive, slow pace of the innings built up the pressure which caused them quick wickets.
Sarfraz (32) and Nawaz (42) gave some support to the team but once they lost wickets in pursue of big shots, no other player could manage at least to play full 20 overs, and all the team was out on 129 in just 16.2 overs. Gohar and Ajentha Mendis took 4 and 3, wickets respectively.
Hard-hitter Chris Gayle – who failed to score in the first two matches for Qalandars– was not part of today’s match.
Umar Akmal was awarded man of the match for his blistering 93 off 40 balls. He says he’s been happy playing this kind of an innings and thanks his coaching staff for all their help.
“I have played such innings in domestic career. Whatever happened today it was a blessing. I got the chance to bat at No. 3 and had the time. I told myself that I should develop an innings. This pitch was a lot better than before as well. I was prepared that I will wait for the last overs to fire. [Ramiz says the new hairstyle is good] I don’t know how it looks I just tried it.”
Winning captain Azhar was jubilant. “We needed this victory,” says Azhar Ali, “First two games we didn’t play well.
we had some plans, but they didn’t go well. This time the batters played well and the bowlers backed them up. It was a tremendous innings from Akmal. It was difficult to bowl against him and also Delport, held his nerve, kept his focus. It was difficult to bat first up. Takes time to get together, we knew one good performance would get us going and hopefully this was it”
Gladiators’ captain credited Akmal for his innings that took the game away from his team. “Credit goes to Umar for such a nice innings. Delport read the pitch as well. It was surely a wakeup call for us. We will learn from our mistakes.”

Scoreboard

LAHORE QALANDARS:
Azhar Ali c Akbar b Gul 20
C Delport lbw b Zulfiqar 73
Umar Akmal c Akbar b Anwar 93
D Bravo not out 5
Hammad Azam not out 0
EXTRAS: (w2, nb1) 3
TOTAL: (3 wkts; 20 overs) 194
FOW: 1-62, 2-157, 3-193
BOWLING: Anwar Ali 4-0-27-1, M Nabi 4-0-37-0, Zulfiqar Babar 4-0-31-1, M Nawaz 3-0-31-0, Umar Gul 4-0-50-1, Akbar-ur-Rehman 1-0-18-0
QUETTA GLADIATORS:
LJ Wright c Cooper b Gohar 4
Ahmed Shehzad b Cooper 15
K Pietersen c Cooper b Bravo 12
M Nawaz st Rizwan b Mendis 42
Sarfraz Ahmed st Rizwan b Zohaib 31
M Nabi c Umar Akmal b Gohar 6
E Chigumbura c Azhar b Mendis 3
Akbar-ur-Rehman st Rizwan b Gohar 3
Anwar Ali c Gohar b Mendis 3
Umar Gul c Umar Akmal b Gohar 0
Zulfiqar Babar not out 1
EXTRAS: (b3, lb3, w5) 11
TOTAL: (all out; 16.2 overs) 131
FOW: 1-20, 2-26, 3-37, 4-111, 5-118, 6-122, 7-125, 8-129, 9-130, 10-131
BOWLING: D Bravo 2-0-13-1, Zafar Gohar 3.2-0-14-4, K Cooper 2-0-24-1, Zohaib Khan 4-0-32-1, Hammad Azam 2-0-25-0, A Mendis 3-0-17-3
TOSS: Quetta Gladiators
UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (Pak), J Wilson (WI)
TV UMPIRE: Shozab Raza (Pak)
MATCH REFEREE: M Anees (Pak)