Rashid Khan takes five as Qalandars extend lead at the top

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Tim David’s 36-ball 64 set up a stiff target after the Qalandars were 25 for 4, and Rashid did the rest with the ball

Lahore Qalandars 170 for 8 (David 64*, Dunk 48, Allen 2-36) beat Peshawar Zalmi 160 for 8 (Malik 73, Umaid 23*, Rashid 5-20, Faulkner 2-23) by ten runsAfter the drama of Wednesday night, the Lahore Qalandars ensured their victory on late Thursday night would be slightly more straightforward, seeing off Peshawar Zalmi by ten runs. A magical five-wicket haul for Rashid Khan – his first in franchise T20 cricket – ripped the heart out of Zalmi’s middle order, ensuring a valiant 48-ball 73 from Shoaib Malik wouldn’t really come close to taking them over the line.That didn’t mean the Qalandars didn’t take the scenic route, though. The men in green looked as if they had batted themselves out of the game when they were reduced to 25 for 4 inside eight overs. Thereafter, however, it was all Qalandars, thanks initially to a match-rescuing 81-run partnership between Ben Dunk and Tim David to set their side back on course. David then combined with James Faulkner to take it up a notch in the final six overs, which saw 90 runs scored. The Singapore batter led the way with a 36-ball 64, setting Zalmi a stiff 171 for victory.

Zalmi would end up mirroring the Qalandars’ woeful start, losing openers Kamran Akmal and Haider Ali to Faulkner’s first over, whose irrepressible start to the PSL may even see the Australian selectors begin to pay attention in a World Cup year. A 51-run stand between Malik and David Miller kept Zalmi interested, but that was before the Rashid Khan show. The legspinner would rip apart the middle order, as he was near impossible to either read or play for Zalmi. By the time he was done with his spell, Zalmi were all but out of the contest. Umaid Asif kept the Qalandars’ nerves jangling with a breezy cameo at the death, but Zalmi had been left too much to do.

Zalmi’s stifling start
The Dunk-David partnership had the quality to win most T20 games, but it’s easy to forget how hopeless the position they were forced to consolidate from was. That was the case thanks to a superb opening spell from both Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan, who beat the batter’s tentative outside edges so often, it might have been a Test match with a new Dukes ball in overcast English conditions. Riaz mixed up the length deliveries with a pinpoint yorker to dispatch Fakhar Zaman in the first over, while Irfan followed it up by drawing an outside edge from the Qalandars captain Sohail Akhtar.

The blows from Zalmi kept coming, Asif proving Mohammad Hafeez’s undoing with a devilishly quick bouncer the batter toe-ended to extra cover. Mohammad Faizan, who endured a wretched little innings where he appeared to lack both ability and intent, fell thanks to a stupendously good diving catch from Riaz at mid-off. It was his 21st delivery, with the No. 3 managing just eight runs. It brought David and Dunk together, and with them came the Qalandars’ rescue.

Rashid Khan masterclass
It might be easier to copy and paste the rich tributes the Afghan superstar earned after his exploits against Islamabad United, but this was an even more imperious performance. He begun sloppily with a few wayward balls down the leg side, and his first over ended up going for 15 runs – six more than he had allowed in his entire spell on Wednesday.

But from thereon, a mesmeric two overs changed the face of the game entirely. Up to this point, Malik and Miller had quietly built up a partnership of mounting importance for Zalmi after the quickfire loss of the openers, and while the asking rate approached 11, players like Sherfane Rutherford and Fabian Allen were to follow. But when Khan had Miller chopping onto his stumps in the tenth over, Zalmi found their defences breached in a far more comprehensive way. Rovman Powell attempted, and missed, a sweep shot two balls later; but the third Khan over was the icing on the cake.

He looked to have Rutherford plumb first ball, and the batter was spared only by the faintest hint of a glove on it. A couple more googlies followed before he threw in the conventional legbreak, a magical delivery that sent the off stump bail flying. The hapless Allen looked dead in front first ball, and again, was only saved by the impact on the pads being marginally outside off. Khan would have the last laugh, though, finishing him off with a googly the following delivery, and on that occasion, the umpire had no hesitation raising the finger. He would return to remove Riaz and complete a five-for, with his figures of 4-1-20-5 not flattering him in the slightest.

David a diamond in the rough
What is it with men named David and finishing games off for the Qalandars? It’s safe to say David wasn’t widely known in Pakistan when the Qalandars plumped for him in the replacement draft, but he certainly is now.

Filling David Weise’s boots for the Qalandars is a near-impossible task, but David has made a sparkling start. After a priceless cameo against United, his 64 against Zalmi offered much more substance. He was involved in a sensible rebuild with Dunk early on, prioritising keeping wickets. But without taking risks, he looked to be moving the run rate upwards. He brought up his half-century of 30 balls by pulling Riaz over midwicket for six before following up with two more in the final over to guarantee his side had a vice-like grip on the game they were never likely to relinquish.

Where they stand
The Qalandars extend their lead at the top of the table with five wins in six games. The defeat sees Zalmi drop down to fourth.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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