LAHORE: Opener Chris Lynn smashed a 52-ball century and propelled Lahore Qalandars to their first semifinal appearance in the Pakistan Super League on Sunday, and defending champion Quetta Gladiators exited the Twenty20 tournament despite beating Karachi Kings.
Lahore, which thumped table-topper Multan Sultans by nine wickets in an empty Gaddafi Stadium, faces Karachi in the semifinals. Multan will meet 2017 champion Peshawar Zalmi in the other semifinal.
Lahore will host both semifinals on Tuesday, and also the final on Wednesday without fans present due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Peshawar with a net run-rate of minus 0.055 edged Quetta on minus 0.722 after both former champions finished the league stage with nine points each.
Lynn smashed eight sixes and a dozen boundaries against a second-string Multan bowling attack. He finished unbeaten on a career-best 113 off 55 balls as Lahore breezed to 191-1 in 18.5 overs in reply to Multan’s total of 186-6. Lefthander Khushdil Shah hit a belligerent 70 not out off just 29 balls for Multan.
Lahore finished in third place with 10 points, a point behind Karachi. Lahore won three of their last four matches by chasing down targets of 180-plus in a remarkable turnaround of form after losing three in a row at the start of the tournament. Lahore had finished last in all four previous editions of the PSL since 2016.
“It’s great to get triple figures … it was important to get to that semifinal after five years of trying,” Lynn said.
“It was difficult (playing in an empty stadium) but you have to create your own energy when fielding.”
Shaheen Afridi (2-23) and David Wiese (2-24) shared four wickets between them, but Khushdil cut loose in the last five overs against fast bowlers Haris Rauf, who conceded 50 runs in his three overs, and Dilbar Hussain (0-37).
As many as 14 overseas cricketers have already left for home due to fears of flight closures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak including Multan’s James Vince and Rilee Roussouw. Lahore is the only franchise among the six participating whose entire complement of six foreign cricketers has remained in Pakistan.
Lynn and Fakhar Zaman (57) blazed a 100-run opening stand off only 54 balls after Multan rested four frontline bowlers – Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Shahid Afridi and Imran Tahir – ahead of their match.
Usman Qadir, son of the late Pakistan legspinner great Abdul Qadir, got the only success in his first PSL appearance this season when he had Fakhar stumped in the ninth over.
But Lynn continued to hit out with ease and won by hitting two successive sixes against fast bowler Ali Shafiq, who ended up with 0-40 off his 2.5 overs.
It was just the second defeat in the tournament for Multan which ended the league stage on top with 14 points.
At Karachi, Shane Watson (66) scored his only second half century in this season’s PSL as Quetta beat the hosts by five wickets after reaching 154-5 in 16.2 overs.
Khurram Manzoor, playing his first game for Quetta, scored an aggressive 63 and shared a 118-run stand for the second wicket with Watson after Ahmed Shehzad again failed with the bat and was out for a duck in the first over.
Earlier, Cameron Delport made 62 off 44 before Karachi was restricted to 150-5 as young paceman Naseem Shah returned from an ankle injury and took 2-17 off his four overs.