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Malik laments poor death overs bowling in Zalmi loss

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KARACHI: Veteran stalwart Shoaib Malik reasoned poor bowling at death contributed to Peshawar Zalmi’s 10-run loss against Lahore Qalandars during their engrossing HBL Pakistan Super League 6 encounter in Abu Dhabi.

Malik — whose international days now seemed all but behind him after having not played for Pakistan since the Twenty20 International against England at Old Trafford last September — showed his prowess with a pugnacious 48-ball knock of 73.

But despite his heroics, the 2017 champions let slip the game away from grasp with Rashid Khan — man-of-the-match for the second time on the trot — grabbing five wickets for 20 runs in another magnificent exhibition of spin bowling from the Afghanistan star as Peshawar managed 160-8 in reply to Lahore’s 170-8.

“As a team weren’t expecting Lahore Qalandars get to 170 and that’s an area which was a concern for us and where we need to improved. Secondly, Rashid broke our back with those five wickets and despite our poor bowling in death overs, it was him who changed the entire complexion [of the match],” Malik said in a post-match chat at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in the wee hours of Friday.

The 39-year-old — who had now amassed 10,561 runs from 418 games in T20 cricket with a highest score 95 not out among 65 half-centuries — further remarked that he had shied from taking on the responsibility all his career and opted to bat No.3 because Peshawar Zalmi skipper Wahab Riaz and head coach Darren Sammy had planned the team combination accordingly.

“It was need of the hour that I should bat at No.3 because all my playing career whenever and wherever I was told to come in, I had always put up my hand, and as long as I play cricket I’ll try to remain the same way. And, I managed to make some contribution,” Malik said.

“It’s a shame that Peshawar Zalmi lost in the end after taking early wickets in the first half. That’s why I say we missed opportunities when we had Lahore in serious trouble at 25-4. That was really the missing element from my perspective because we had a wrist spinner in the middle overs he would had been able to take wickets as we saw how Rashid turned the tide in favour of Lahore.

“But at the same we should be gracious in appreciating both [Ben] Dunk]and [Tim] David for their exceptional batting with an excellent strike rate on what was tough pitch for batting and carried their side to a competitive score.

“And even though we didn’t win the match, there is lot of passionate and camaraderie in the Zalmi squad where enjoyment is the key word. Wahab [Riaz] is new to the job of leading the team and the best part is anyone in our team setup can go to Wahab and give suggestions. As a senior player I also do help out Wahab when the situation demands,” Malik signed off.

Rashid, meanwhile, lauded Lahore’s amazing all-round team performance for second straight fixture since start of the second leg in Abu Dhabi.

“I think we can’t heap enough praise on the guys who had been playing brilliantly. It’s just not one man but the entire unit which had been responsible for our second victory in the Abu Dhabi,”Rashid, who grabbed his third five-for in 261 T20 appearances, asserted.

“It’s kind of start [in Abu Dhabi] we all needed and always strive for a proper [re-]start in the tournament. It is just not about single guy and everybody is contributing. Haris [Rauf], Shaheen [Shah Afridi], [Ahmed] Daniyal and I think it is all about the contributions from them as well, while with the bat the way we came when we’re struggling in the first 10 overs.

“Ben Dunk and David batted longer and helped us get a total which enabled us to put Peshawar under pressure. And when everyone contributes, that is the story of success in T20 cricket,” Rashid stressed.

The Afghanistan ace spinner said it is imperative that one should always at the stumps rather than try out something different. “The reason my behind success is that my aim is always to bowl at the stumps and once you do that the batsman is force to think whether to nudge the ball or go for a big hit. And most of the time, there is every chance of picking up wickets as I did in this game because I was bowling in the right areas.

“But I must say Malik played one of the best innings tonight. He knows how to bat on a wicket helping spinners and being someone who has had played around the world, he put up a superb exhibition of as to how to play spin bowling,” Rashid added.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2021

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