That didn’t deter Qalandars from coming up with a fighting performance with the ball. First Sunil Narine and then Yasir Shah struck at regular intervals, picking up six wickets between them to reduce Peshawar Zalmi to 51 for 7 at one stage. However, Zalmi overcame their colossal mismanagement of the chase to get over the line with three wickets in hand and three overs to spare, thereby topping the points table.
After being asked to bat, Qalandars’ skipper Brendon McCullum couldn’t execute a pull shot properly off Asghar and found Dawid Malan at deep mid-wicket to perfection to depart without scoring in the opening over. Roy made his way back soon after, failing to clear Jordan at mid-off to give Hasan his first wicket, while Umar Akmal went for an extravagant drive off the same bowler, only to see Mohammad Hafeez hold on to a sharp catch at second slip.
While Fakhar Zaman got going with a flurry of boundaries, things soon took a turn for the worse for Qalandars. Grant Elliott became the third batsman to be dismissed for a duck when he edged a Hasan delivery to Darren Sammy at first slip. Mohammad Rizwan played a couple of attractive shots before he fell soon after the powerplay, getting out to Wahab Riaz in his first over, as Qalandars lost half their side for 48 runs.
The procession of wickets did not stop with that as Sunil Narine didn’t hang around to consolidate the innings that was already in disarray, handing a simple catch to Jordan at long-on to give Hafeez his first wicket. And to lend variety – with the first six dismissals all being catches – Sohail Tanvir decided to take on Jordan’s arm to be run out, while Bilawal Bhatti was bowled by Shahid Afridi’s wrong ‘un, the ball clipping the thigh before rolling onto the stumps.
A befuddled Zaman, who was a silent observer of the carnage from the other end, became the ninth to depart when he edged a Jordan delivery to ‘keeper Kamran Akmal, who held on to a good catch. Another duck was added to the tally as Mohammad Irfan jnr. fell off the very next delivery, with Kamran Akmal latching on to a regulation take, as Lahore’s bizarre batting show ended in 10.2 overs, the second shortest completed innings in T20 cricket.
It should have been a straightforward chase for Zalmi, whose decision to bowl first was more than justified, and also ably aided by Qalandars’ shambolic batting display. However, the drama extended into the second innings. Malan, who danced down the track to Tanvir, was struck on his boot and was adjudged leg-before. Hafeez then skipped down, only to be stumped off Narine. When Morgan was beaten a couple of times by Narine, he decided to get into a watchful mode before managing a couple of boundaries off Irfan, as Zalmi managed only 20 runs in the powerplay.
Yasir, who was introduced into the attack after the fielding restrictions were lifted, picked up a wicket off his first ball when Kamran Akmal went inside out and hit the ball straight to Elliott at deep cover. Even as Morgan guided the chase with his sensible approach, Afridi narrowed the equation down to 13 off 56 balls by smashing a four and a six off consecutive deliveries off Narine. While he departed soon after, finding Elliott at deep mid-wicket in an attempt to score another big one, a stunning catch from McCullum at short cover gave Yasir the wicket of Sohaib Maqsood.
The drama wasn’t over yet. In what was an inspired spell from Yasir, the legspinner added the scalp of Morgan to his wickets tally, although the England limited-overs skipper was unlucky to be given out caught at short leg despite the ball making no contact with his bat. But the close-in fielders and the pressure-cooker situation that Zalmi brought on to themselves, led to the fall of another wicket – this time it was the captain, Sammy, who inside-edged a Yasir delivery onto the stumps and the legspinner finished with excellent figures of 4 for 7 from his quota of overs.
But finally some sense prevailed as Jordan and Riaz decided to put their heads down and deal in singles. Riaz scored a couple off Elliott for the winning runs as Zalmi managed to get over the line in the 17th over to end what was a comedy of errors that transpired earlier.
Brief scores: Lahore Qalandars 59 in 10.2 overs (Fakhar Zaman 33; Hasan Ali 3-23, Chris Jordan 2-8) lost to Peshawar Zalmi 60/7 in 17 overs (Eoin Morgan 23; Yasir Shah 4-7, Sunil Narine 2-16) by 3 wickets.