Faulkner took three wickets for Qalandars in the powerplay while his captain Sohail top scored with 40
Lahore Qalandars 144 for 5 (Sohail 40, Hasan 2-27) beat Islamabad United 143 for 9 (Faheem 27, Faulkner 3-32) by five wickets
With wickets falling regularly and Ben Dunk nowhere near his best, the game looked dead and buried for Lahore when Hasan Ali removed the Australian in a superb penultimate over. Singaporean international David’s six off the final ball meant Islamabad needed to defend 15, and Shadab threw Hussain Talat the ball instead of taking it himself. Rashid smashed him for three successive boundaries, and a rollercoaster of a contest was suddenly done and dusted.
Shadab’s confidence with the ball isn’t what it might have been, but even so, backing Talat, who didn’t otherwise bowl all day, to line up for that final over seemed an unnecessary risk. Shadab would later say he didn’t fancy bowling at the left-handers, and with Dunk there till the 19th over, he kept himself away from the bowling crease. But Dunk was gone, and with Rashid and David batting, there were two right-handers out in the middle for the Qalandars. Shadab, however, didn’t quite trust himself at the moment. Talat’s over was fairly ordinary, in truth, but given it was his first, laying the blame at his feet would be excessively harsh.
Faulkner’s military medium
Faulkner was a surprising pick in the replacement draft for Lahore anyway, but when he was thrown the ball to open alongside Shaheen Afridi, the faith Qalandars had placed in him seemed excessive. Even more so when he shuffled to deliver what could most generously be termed medium-fast deliveries and Colin Munro took him apart with a four and a six off successive deliveries.
But it was that lack of pace that would prove especially destructive on a slow wicket, particularly when the Australian mixed it up by deliberately taking the pace off some. Munro was undone when he played down the wrong line, but Faulkner was only getting started. While Shaheen was unfortunate not to pick up wickets, his less celebrated new-ball partner was more than making up for it. Rohail Nazir was undone by an off-cutter that slowed off the surface, while Shadab found no timing on another slower delivery as Islamabad reeled. Akhtar was so impressed that Faulkner went on to bowl his full allotment of four on the trot, and by the time he was done taking three wickets, his side was in charge.
Rashid Khan masterclass
It’s difficult to overstate the enormity of the impact Rashid’s availability had on Lahore’s chances. While it seemed initially he would be lost to Sussex for the T20 Blast at this time of year, he chose to stick with the PSL, and with the opportunity to bowl in these conditions, why wouldn’t he? Rashid in the PSL is just about as close to a cheat code as T20 cricket has these days, and with Islamabad already under pressure when he was introduced, the Afghan asphyxiated them through the middle overs.
His four overs conceded just nine runs, along with the wicket of Talat, as the wheels came off entirely for the batting side. The combination of the quicker, flatter delivery, the conventional legspinner, and a devilish googly ran Islamabad ragged, and by the time he was done, Islamabad had only managed to hobble on to 101 for 7 in 16 overs. And all that without mentioning his later exploits with the bat.
Where they stand
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000