DUBAI: Master blaster AB de Villiers announced his arrival as he in company of former South African teammate David Wiese annihilated Multan Sultans in the final five overs for Lahore Qalandars to clinch a drama-packed HBL PSL match in Sharjah by six wickets.
According to PCB spokesman, De Villiers brought Lahore within nine runs of victory in the final over it was the lanky Wiese who smashed Dan Christian over long-off on the final delivery for a six — with four needed — to seal the victory. Lahore, chasing a daunting 201-run target, needed 70 off the last five overs as De Villiers, fired up by vociferous chants of “AB, AB”.
He changed his shot in the last second, from a slog sweep towards fine-leg to left hander and guided fast bowler Junaid Khan over the third man boundary for a six in the 18th over — the sight of the HBL PSL 4. That shot was made possible on a free hit after Junaid overstepped while dismissing Wiese in the 18th over, changing the whole complexion of the match. That spoiled Junaid’s figures to 3-39 in four overs after he dismissed Lahore’s top-scorer Fakhar Zaman (35-ball 63 with three sixes and seven boundaries), Salman Butt (17) and Aghan Salman (two).
De Villiers and Wiese hit a six each off West Indian Andre Russell in the penultimate over to bring down the target to just nine off six balls but Christian conceded six off the first five balls as tension mounted. But Wiese kept his nerves to hit the winning sixer. De Villiers finished with 29-ball 52 not out with three sixes and as many boundaries while Wiese scored a more aggressive undefeated 20-ball 45 with five sixes. The duo added 98 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket stand.
De Villiers said he was happy for his team. “I am pleased for my team,” said Lahore skipper. “I took my time and Wiese took pressure off me and it was a nice partnership. We were under pressure after ten overs but we showed a great attitude.” Multan skipper Shoaib Malik said the match was a treat for a holiday crowd. “Of course, it doesn’t feel good to lose but its cricket,” said Malik. “Yes, you learn a lot from every match. It was a great treat for a holiday crowd.”
Multan also batted ruthlessly to post the sixth 200 plus total in all HBL PSL as Vince knocked a fiery 41-ball 84 with seven boundaries and six hits over the ropes. Debutant Umar Siddiq hit 38-ball 53 with two sixes and four boundaries to take their team to a commanding 200-6.
Multan were without their popular allrounder Shahid Afridi who is nursing a knee injury while Lahore welcomed Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichanne in their squad. It were Vince and Siddiq who gave Multan an ideal start after they were put into bat by Lahore skipper De Villiers.
Vince and Siddiq put on 135 for the opening wicket, beating the previous best first wicket stand of 66 between Ahmed Shehzad and Kumar Sangakkara, against Quetta last year. Vince was particularly savaged against Lamichanne who he greeted with a six — off Nepal spinner’s first ball in the HBL PSL — to complete his fifty off just 28 balls.
Their partnership also set the platform for Multan’s highest total in all HBL PSL, beating last year’s 183-3 against Peshawar in Dubai. Siddiq was also in a punishing mood as the two posted 50 in 4.3 overs and 100 in the ninth. They took 20 in the fifth over bowled by pacer Haris Rauf. It was Lamichanne who finally dismissed Vince, caught at deep mid-wicket and then had Malik for an eight-ball 10, also hitting the Nepalese for a six.
Siddiq was dismissed by Shaheen Shah Afridi in the 15th over but by then the score had reached 157. Lamichanne, fresh from a stint with Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash in Australia, conceded 46 — the most in his Twenty20 career — but also dismissed Russell for seven to finish with three wickets. Dan Christian hit two sixes and a boundary to score 10-ball 21 to give the impetus to the innings as Multan Sultans made 43 runs in the last five overs.