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Mohammad Hafeez shines with bat and ball as Qalandars lift PSL trophy.

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

Lahore side turns the tables to beat defending champions Multan Sultans by 43 runs.

Lahore Qalandars 180 for 5 (Hafeez 69, Brook 41*, Afridi 3-19) beat Multan Sultans 138 (Khushdil 32, Shaheen 3-30, Hafeez 2-23) by 43 runs

Lambasted, lampooned and laughed for so long, Lahore Qalandars are Pakistan Super League champions. You aren't reading the PSL table upside down, but looking at the redemption arc of a franchise that had almost consigned itself to the role of tragic failures and lovable buffoons. All that was relegated to history on a magical evening at the Gaddafi Stadium, where, swept along by crowd support that almost reached mystical levels, Shaheen Shah Afridi and his men blew away defending champions Multan Sultans by 43 runs.

In pursuit of 181 - thanks to a glorious 69 by Mohammad Hafeez and another unbeaten 28 off 8 by David Wiese, his exact batting contribution in the Eliminator against Islamabad United - the Sultans never quite got going. They would collapse in on themselves in what was their worst showing of the tournament, skittled for 138. Afridi and Haris Rauf had put on a fast bowling masterclass, and the side form Southern Punjab found it simply too hot to handle.

The Qalandars' fatalism is such that the stronger their stranglehold on the game, the more it felt they were being set up for failure. When the Sultans, winners of 10 of 11 games this season and the side that beat the Qalandars as recently as Wednesday, wobbled after a fast start, it felt inevitable they would strike back soon. When Mohammad Rizwan was bowled cheaply by Hafeez - who had the game of his life - and Shan Masood was run out after a sloppy mix-up, the Sultans middle order seemed primed to drag them back into the game.

But the Qalandars kept dealing blow after blow. Hafeez removed Aamer Azmat while Rilee Rossouw holed out to the cow corner boundary, where Abdullah Shafique took an excellent catch. The asking rate ballooned as the Sultans pinned all their hopes on Tim David and Khushdil Shah.

That has tended to be a winning strategy for the Sultans on most days this season, but this wasn't any other day; this was the day of Lahore Qalandars' lives. Despite a few clubbed fours and sixes from the pair, both seemed strangely ineffectual compared to their normally devastating selves, and that pesky asking rate continued to defy gravity. The partnership put on 51 in 33, but that wasn't nearly brisk enough for what the Sultans needed, and soon enough, a mistimed David slog off Shaheen found the boundary fielder.

This was Shaheen's moment to shine. Still just 21 years old, he was taken on by the franchise in 2018, and witnessed the almost annual lows the Qalandars have suffered. The responsibility of captaining the side almost felt like a poisoned chalice, but in this moment, this young man - already a superstar - found a way to enrich his reputation even further.

Sensing an opportunity to knock the opposition out, he went in for the kill. A yorker tore through David Willey's stumps to force the Sultans tail out, and another took Rumman Raees out in the next over. From the other end, Haris cleaned up Khushdil to end all hopes of a Sultans comeback. It was left to Wiese, Mr Lahore Qalandars by now, surely, to take the final wicket as the players poured onto the field, enjoying laps of honour that would continue deep into the night.

They had enjoyed the rub of the green at the start, winning the toss and electing to bat; chasing totals has proved something of a problem for the Qalandars of late. As with Friday, the start wasn't ideal; they were 25 for three in 4.2 overs, but in Hafeez, they found their unlikely saviour. In an innings oddly reminiscent of his knock in the Champions Trophy final in 2017, Hafeez combined belligerence with class, caressing 69 off 46 to steer and anchor the Qalandars' innings.

It was all the more necessary given Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique and Zeeshan Ashraf's early departures; Asif Afridi was immense for the Sultans up top. But it did feel until oddly late in the innings as if the Qalandars had left the onslaught a touch late. By the end of the 13th over, Lahore had only managed 84, and would need heroic contributions from the lower middle order if they were to muster a total that discomfited an imperious Sultans batting order.

Enter Harry Brook. He'd shown why the Qalandars valued him so highly with a century earlier in the tournament, but his innings on this night was even more valuable. The 17th over saw him take Raees on and smash him for 19 runs in five balls, and by now, all Qalandars guns were blazing.

His unbeaten 22-ball 41 was complemented by another blistering late attack from Wiese which ensured his name would forever remain in Qalandars history - the eight balls Wiese faced fetched another 28 runs, and Lahore had the momentum with them at the change of innings.

Multan might be known as the city of saints, but by now, the mood that had gripped Lahore was almost spiritual. Shaheen and Haris almost came across as saintly figures as they indulged in the adulation of the crowd. Whatever happens to this Qalandars side in the future, and indeed, despite all they have endured in the past, they'll always have this night at the Gaddafi, when their very own Lahore lifted the PSL trophy that had seemed destined to elude them.

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