Lahore Qalandars will defend its Pakistan Super League title in the final after knocking out Peshawar Zalmi by four wickets in the elimination play-off on Friday.
Lahore will take on Multan Sultans in the final on Saturday in a repeat of last year’s title match.
Unheralded opening batter Mirza Baig (54) hit his maiden PSL half-century to lead Lahore to 176-6. Lahore became the first team to chase successfully in eight PSL games at Lahore this season.
Peshawar put up 171-5, led by Mohammad Haris with 85 off 54 balls.
Captain Babar Azam chose to bat first in overcast conditions.
“After 10 overs the ball reversed a little bit for the pacers and it became a little difficult,” Babar said. “In the end, our bowling was not up to the mark, we were good for eight to nine overs in the field, but not the full 20 (overs).”
Lahore’s faith in Baig finally paid off in the crucial game as the opener dominated the unorthodox spin of Mujeeb Ur Rahman (0-35) after Fakhar Zaman fell for 6 early in the run chase and Abdullah Shafique was run out on 15 while going for a second run.
Baig added 50 for the third wicket with Sam Billings (28) before he gloved a catch behind.
Salman Irshad, whose brilliant bowling in the death overs eliminated Islamabad United on Thursday, bowled Billings off a yorker and Azmatullah Omarzai knocked back the off stump of Sikandar Raza (23) off a full toss with Lahore needing 12 of 14 balls.
Shaheen Shah Afridi finished the game in style with a straight four and a six off consecutive balls against Irshad, who returned an expensive 1-42.
Earlier, Babar (40) and Haris added 89 off 60 balls.
Babar had a let off on 39 when spinner Ahsan Hafeez, in his first game of the season, couldn’t hold a sharp return catch. But one run later, Babar was out lbw off a Rashid Khan googly.
Haris, who hit 11 fours and two sixes, tried to accelerate in the death overs but Afridi got him caught at fine leg off a full toss. Peshawar scored only 48 runs in the last five overs.
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