HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Lahore Qalandars became the first-ever team to defend their champions title, when they beat Multan Sultans by just one run at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on Saturday.

The HBL PSL8 final was preponed to Saturday from initially planned Sunday after rain threatened to ruin the fun of the marquee match. Sunday and Monday were then kept as reserve days to ensure completion of the 20-overs-a-side match.

However on Saturday, the match was saturated with drama and nothing else.

It all came down to the last ball of the match with Multan needing four to win from one last ball. Khushdil Shah tried to steal three from the deep fielder on the leg side but bowler Zaman Khan used his brains to collect the ball and remove the stumps to help Lahore go past the finish line.

“Shaheen told me to do what I do best, bowl yorkers. However, in between deliveries I planned to throw a slower-one in the mix as well which thankfully paid off,” said Zaman after the match.

Lahore opted to bat first and courtesy captain Shaheen’s ballistics reached 200-6 in their 20 overs. The left-arm pacer, who has improved his batting massively all thanks to former all-rounder Shahid Afridi’s mentorship, hit 44 runs off just 15 balls courtesy five sixes and two fours.

“It was a team effort,” said Shaheen when asked about the secret recipe. “We had belief in ourselves and we won in the end.”

Lahore’s cause was powered by a 65 off 40 balls by Abdullah Shafique too after openers Mirza Baig (30) and Fakhar Zaman (39 off 34) gave Lahore a moderate start.

“I would like to thank the captain and the management for backing me and every player,” said Shafique.

For Multan, leg-spinner Usama Mir was the bowler of the day with 3-24 from his over three overs. Meanwhile, pacers Anwar Ali, Ihsanullah and left-arm spinner Khushdil Shah bagged one wicket each.

Zimbabwe all-rounder Sikandar Raza was delighted that their batting and bowling experiments throughout the tournament paid off in the final.

“We received a lot of criticism for changing our batting and bowling orders throughout the event. But we wanted everyone to have wickets and runs under their belt so they could take some confidence into the final,” said Raza.

“Every player in our team is a match-winner. The fact that every match had a different player-of-the-match in Lahore’s victories proves that.”

With the newly-minted Supernova trophy, Lahore also took home Rs120 million as a reward for their triumph. On the other hand, the second-placed finishers Multan were handed a cheque of Rs48 million as a consolation prize.

‘Great tournament’

English keeper-batter Sam Billings was all praise for the Lahore crowd after the match, saying the experience of playing in the HBL PLS8 was amazing.

“The crowd has been absolute magic. It shows the love the game that people here [in Pakistan] have,” said Billings. “Being a part of a champion team always feels good. My first experience was great in HBL PSL. I would love to come back to this tournament.”

All-rounder David Wiese was also ecstatic after the victory.

“We tried to stay cool and calm in the crunch moments of the match. When nearly 30,000 people are screaming in the background, you can easily lose focus” said Wiese. “The crowd was great as they came in big numbers to support us.”

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