Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

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Hopefully, Lahore will change their approach in next matches with players available and secure victories

Lahore Qalandars team. — PCB
Lahore Qalandars’ team. — PCB 

The Lahore leg of the ninth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) concluded with home side Qalandars’ massive 60-run loss against Multan Sultans at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday. This embarrassing loss was the defending champions’ sixth consecutive defeat in the event so far.

It was not expected that this was how the two-time champions would perform in the ongoing edition of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) flagship event, as many considered Shaheen Shah Afridi’s men as the favourites to clinch the elusive trophy for the third time in a row.

As their chances of qualifying for the playoffs seemed to have perished, this piece delves into the reasons behind the Lahore Qalandars’ miserable run.

Poorly thought-out plan

Lahore Qalandars’ inability to field a good combination of playing XI was largely because of their poor planning at the draft held on December 13, 2023. 

Aaqib Javed’s side focused more on picking players for an already well-established top-order and went for Sahibzada Farhan and Rassie van der Dussen. The two have played some good cricket and are among the top run scorers of the event so far, but instead of shaking the base of their batting, the management could’ve picked one between the two and improved their middle order by picking a more power-hitting option that would score runs in the middle. 

As a result of picking Van der Dussen and Farhan, the number four batting position has seen frequent changes. First, they tried Abdullah Shafique for the position, and, being a top-order batter, he couldn’t deliver in the role which is why West Indies ODI skipper Shai Hope replaced him. The wicket-keeper batter couldn’t perform well, so Kamran Ghulam took his place for the clash with Multan Sultans, but he also fell prey to the pressure.

Runs haven’t come for Fakhar Zaman’s bat as of yet. Hence, someone should’ve risen to the occasion and gathered some runs in the middle or towards the later part of the innings.

With their batting and run-scoring prowess, Mirza Tahir Baig, Fakhar Zaman, and Abdullah Shafique played a pivotal role in Lahore Qalandars’ trophy-winning run in 2023.

Lacklustre bowling performance

The very basis of Lahore Qalandars’ title-winning squads in 2022 and 2023 was their bowling attack but this time the formidable bowling lineup hasn’t been up to par. 

Zaman Khan, who performed well for Lahore Qalandars in the powerplay and the death previously, hasn’t been on the song during the ninth edition of the PSL. His economy is 12.55, while he claimed six wickets.

Before the PSL, Haris Rauf was not in his best form as his performance in the Asia Cup 2023 and subsequently in the ODI World Cup 2023 wasn’t up to the mark. We witnessed a few glimpses of his return in the ongoing PSL, but his bowling wasn’t up to the standard he set for himself till the match against Karachi Kings, where he claimed a wicket and gave away only 22 runs in his four overs. Unfortunately, he got injured during the clash, dislocating his shoulder while fielding, which ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament.

Lahore Qalandars Zaman Khan (left) and Haris Rauf. — PCB
Lahore Qalandars’ Zaman Khan (left) and Haris Rauf. — PCB

Meanwhile, the only positive thing about Lahore Qalandars’ bowling lineup in this tournament is Shaheen Shah Afridi’s pace. The Eagle is now bowling at his full pace, crossing the 140 kph mark in every over.

Absence of Rashid Khan

Lahore Qalandars immensely missed their top recruit Rashid Khan. The Afghan spinner, retained in the Silver Category, withdrew from the PSL as he undergoes his rehabilitation following back surgery in November 2023. 

Rashid Khan hits a shot during a match against Islamabad United at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, on June 9, 2021. — Twitter/PSL
Rashid Khan hits a shot during a match against Islamabad United at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, on June 9, 2021. — Twitter/PSL

Rashid possesses the quality to take wickets in the middle overs while being miserly with the economy. Although Lahore Qalandars have George Linde, Sikandar Raza, and Salman Fayyaz in their squad, Rashid’s absence was felt by the team as the spinners couldn’t deliver as the Afghan magician does.

Injuries

Amid all the chaos, injuries of David Wiese and Haris Rauf added to the woes of Lahore Qalandars. The Namibian all-wounder, touted as “murshid” (guide or teacher), missed Lahore Qalandars’ five matches after sustaining a leg injury following the opening match against Islamabad United on February 17 in Lahore. West Indies all-rounder Carlos Braithwaite replaced him, but he didn’t perform like Wiese with the bat and ball as the lanky all-rounder snatched victory from the opposition with his experience and expertise on many occasions.

Lahore Qalandars Haris Rauf (left) and David Wiese. — thePSLt20/X/Screengrab
Lahore Qalandars’ Haris Rauf (left) and David Wiese. — thePSLt20/X/Screengrab  

All these resulted in the Lahore Qalandars’ poor performance in the ninth edition of the PSL. Hopefully, they will change their approach in the next matches with the players available and secure victories in the remaining fixtures because their fans wouldn’t want them, as the defending champions, to go down like this.


Mustansir Ali is a student and former Geosuper.tv staffer.

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