Wiese, Rauf set up Lahore Qalandars vs Karachi Kings PSL final clash
Lahore Qalandars 182 for 6 (Wiese 48*, Afridi 2-18) beat Multan Sultans 157 all out (Lyth 50, Wiese 3-27, Rauf 3-30) by 25 runs
How the game played out
The game the PSL was perhaps created for will happen, after all. Lahore Qalandars will vie for the title against Karachi Kings on Tuesday, having swept aside Multan Sultans by 25 runs in the second Eliminator.
was at the heart of all they did tonight, his 21-ball 48* helping his side post 182 - 30 runs more than Multan Sultans have ever successfully chased. Before he came in, Lahore Qalandars' innings was a stop-start affair, having burst into life at the top thanks to a delightful cameo by Tamim Iqbal and a 36-ball 46 by Fakhar Zaman. It had fallen away since, Multan's bowlers - notably with 2-18 - making their presence felt, winning the middle overs and removing Mohammad Hafeez and Ben Dunk cheaply. However, as their disciplines fell away in the last three overs, Wiese found his chance to capitalise. Multan plundered 46 off the final 14 balls, and momentum was on their side.
But Multan, the best side in the group stages, had by no means given up the ghost, getting them off to a flyer with a 28-ball half-century. He took the attack to , who went off with a side strain - though he did come back to finish his spell. But Wiese wasn't to be kept out of the action, coming into the attack and getting rid of Lyth; his figures would end up reading 4-0-27-3. For good measure, he even took a stunning catch on the boundary to get rid of Rilee Rossouw in an astonishing individual performance that dragged his side to the brink of glory.
It might seem like a straightforward win for Lahore in the end, but there were key moments in the first innings where Multan might rue their indiscipline. Having weathered the early storm and made key breakthroughs in the middle, Multan, for all their focus on data and analytics, would have known Lahore arguably bat a batsman light. So when Ben Dunk was removed in the 15th over with the score on 111, Multan were one wicket away from forcing Mohammad Faizan, and then three number 11s, out to bat. For that, however, they needed to break the Samit Patel-David Wiese partnership, upon which the game hinged for Sohail Akhtar's side.
Multan seemed to be doing all right in terms of keeping the runs on a leash until the last two balls of the 18th over, when Patel worked away Sohail Tanvir for two boundaries to push Lahore up to 144. The claustrophobic pressure appeared to have suddenly lifted, and a wretched penultimate over from Junaid Khan was smashed for 20 runs by Wiese. By then, the South African was on a rampage, and signed off the innings with two colossal sixes. It was officially only the halfway mark, but Lahore seemed a lot closer to the final than that.
Moment of the match
Everyone knows by now Shahid Afridi is nowhere close to the explosive big hitter he once was. There's little need to get excited by him walking out to bat; he might once have been a trailblazer, but several around the world have mastered - indeed, bettered, the art he helped pioneer. At 40 - or 45, if you believe his autobiography - any exploits off Afridi's bat are very much dying embers of a flame that once burned brightly, but may just have snuffed them out tonight.
In the 14th over when Afridi walked out to bat, Rauf sent down a searing yorker first up tailing into middle stump. Few might have kept it out, but Afridi was notably slow in getting his bat down, the ball, almost tauntingly, whistling through his legs and onto the base of middle stump. As Afridi began to walk off, utterly befuddled, Rauf clasped his hands together by way of apology. It was Rauf's 50th T20 wicket this year, and he may just have ended an iconic Pakistani career with it.