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Lahore Qalandars — the front-runner

Lahore Qalandars, a star-studded squad, has been in the limelight for a plenty of reasons since the commencement of the PSL T20 extravaganza. Lahore Qalandars were unfortunate enough and could not progress beyond the preliminary stage in the first four editions, however, there was a paradigm shift in the fifth edition, which proved rather lucky for the team since it made to the final during the preceding year. It was anticipated that it was likely that Lahore Qalandars would rout Karachi Kings but all in vain. Lahore Qalandars gave scintillating performance in almost every match played during the preceding edition of the PSL across Pakistan.

The beleaguered Qalandars stunned the fans who suffered four years of heartbreak since the start of the T20 extravaganza. Victory after victory with marvelous performance by almost every player hoisted the team to the unprecedented level. Incredible performance by the players led the team to the final where they had a bad day, to be precise.

Lahore Qalandars with four consecutive years of abysmal performance ended losing streak preceding year by winning their first match of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 against Quetta Gladiators. Stunning performance particularly by Ben Dunk and Samit Patel propelled the team to victory.

Moving forward, Lahore Qalandars staggered the Karachi Kings by eight-wicket victory at the Gaddafi Stadium. Ben Dunk’s 99-run knock off 40 balls proved lethal for the adversaries since 188-run target was achieved for the loss of barely two wickets. Moreover, Sohail Akhtar piled up 68 runs off 46 balls having mesmerizing partnerships with his teams. There was no looking back since Lahore Qalandars bagged victory against Peshawar Zalmi by five wickets. This time it was Fakhar Zaman and Chris Lynn who scored 63 runs from 46 balls and 59 from 32 respectively. There was befitting response by the bowling side of the team as well since Samit Patel was rather stunning. Once back after the hiatus in the wake of pandemic, Mohammad Hafeez with his tremendous batting skills and the South African David Wiese, a dashing bowler and hard hitter, guided the team to a five-wicket victory against Peshawar Zalmi in the Eliminator-1 clash. It was sheer misfortune that Lahore Qalandars to the utter dismay of its ardent protagonists lost to Karachi Kings in the final.

This time during the HBL PSL-6 scheduled in February and March 2021, Lahore Qalandars seem the front runners for the trophy. This is the team with all attributes of a winning team. This time, it is even a better team, to say the least. It has Pakistan pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi who has fascinated fans from across the globe for his spectacular bowling skills. The robust agrarian Dilbar Hussain with bowling average of 22.28 and best bowling figures of 4/24 has proven himself an indispensable part of the team. Fakhar Zaman with T20 batting average of 22.05 is the first ever batsman for Pakistan to score a century in an ICC event final and this was the event when Pakistan outplayed its arch rival India. In 2018, he scored 91 runs against unbeatable Australia in the tri-series final in Harare to help his country win the title. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan could surprise its rivals. Speedster Haris Rauf could uproot wickets with his bowling acumen. The prolific Mohammad Hafeez has contributed myriads of times leading the team to victory. Australian cricket sensation, Ben Dunk, is magnificent with his batting, let alone wicket keeping. The British cricketer, Samit Patel, has been impressive with both ball and bat during the event various times. Sohail Akhtar, the skipper, has given unbeatable performance leading the team to success. David Wiese and Joe Denly are an asset for the team as well.

Let’s see what transpires at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on March 22 this year, a month from now. The market is abuzz with the news that Fawad Rana’s Lahore Qalandars is geared up to bag the trophy with the professional skills imparted by Aaqib Javed, the head coach and Mansoor Rana, the batting coach.

This is the same Lahore Qalandars which emerged dismally with 5thposition both in 2016 and 2017, then 6thposition both in 2018 and 2019 and then bounced back with the runner up in 2020.

All eyes are in particular on the matches scheduled in Karachi where Lahore Qalandars would encounter Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta Gladiators, Multan Sultans, Karachi Kings and Islamabad United from February 21 to March 6, 2021. There is no denying that every match is crucial for morale of the entire team.

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