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Lahore end their drought with six-wicket victory over Multan

DUBAI: Dazzling Shaheen Shah Afridi clinched five scalps for just four runs as Lahore Qalandars scored their first victory of the Pakistan Super League III by beating Multan Sultans by six wickets at Dubai International Stadium here on Friday. Chasing a modest target of 115, Lahore raced home in the 19th over for the loss of four wickets. Captain Brendon McCullum finished the innings with the top score of unbeaten 35 off 35 balls with the help of two fours and one six. Lahore started their chase with a flourish, thanks to Anton Devcich (22 off 9 balls) and Fakhar Zaman, but soon lapsed into a more circumspect approach after they lost three wickets in successive overs. Led by Mohammad Irfan, Multan’s fast bowlers kept up the pressure, but McCullum and Gulfraiz Sadaf (27) weathered the nervy phase. Despite Sadaf’s dismissal in the 16th over, Lahore made it over the line with eight balls to spare. McCullum also benefited from a pair of reprieves, being dropped twice (on 9 and 10) in consecutive overs by Saif Badar, and finished unbeaten.
Earlier, after opting to bat first, Multan faced a major batting collapse as they lost their last eight wickets for just 22 runs and were bowled out for just 114. The star of the show for Lahore was young pacer Afridi who returned extraordinary figures of 3.4-1-4-5 to derail Multan, who had looked set for a 150-plus total at one point. Multan were off to a breezy start. Kumar Sangakkara, who has been in red-hot form this season, showed no mercy to Lahore’s bowlers. He smashed a brisk 45 off 30 balls, before getting out on Sunil Narine’s delivery. Sohaib Maqsood, the next man in, and Ahmad Shahzad kept the momentum going, before Shahzad was dismissed by McClenaghan for 32. Narine then bowled Maqsood at 16, slowing down Multan’s run rate. But the real magic for Lahore happened when the 17-year old Afridi dismissed Shoaib Malik, R Whiteley and Saif Badar, all in the same over, dealing a sharp blow to Multan’s quest for a big total. Multan managed only 17 runs in their last five overs for the loss of seven wickets. Only three batsmen finished with double-digit scores. McCullum’s decision to first hold back Afridi initially raised eyebrows, but it soon became apparent that he intended to bowl him out in one stretch at the death. Afridi didn’t disappoint as he led a relentless assault against Multan’s middle order. McCullum’s gambit paid off on two counts, as Afridi kept down the scoring and picked up wickets in a flurry.

Brief scores: Lahore Qalandars 115 for 4 (Brendan McCullum 35 not out, Gulfraiz Sadaf 27) beat Multan Sultans 114 (Kumar Sangakkara 45, Shaheen Afridi 5-4) by six wickets.

Today’s matches (Saturday March 10)

22nd match: Multan Sultans v Karachi Kings at Dubai International Cricket Stadium at 04:30 PM PST

23rd match: Peshawar Zalmi v Quetta Gladiators at Dubai International Cricket Stadium at 09:00 PM PST

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