Mohammad Rizwan on PSL final – ‘Shaheen Shah Afridi’s innings was the turning point’

After his side lost the 2023 PSL final to Lahore Qalandars by one run, Multan Sultans captain Mohammad Rizwan has tagged Shaheen Shah Afridi‘s unbeaten 15-ball 44 the “turning point” of the match. Rizwan also gave credit to Zaman Khan who defended 12 in the final over to give Qalandars their second successive title.

In a game where the momentum swung from one side to the other more than once, Rizwan’s dismissal too played a big part in the result. Chasing 201, Sultans were 122 for 2, in the 13th over, when an excellent catch by David Weise at the long-on boundary sent him back.

“Turning point was Shaheen’s innings that took away the momentum,” Rizwan said in the post-match press conference. “We did manage to make things easy for us at one stage. Unfortunately, my bat turned in my hand and I couldn’t get enough power behind the shot. But he [Wiese] took a brilliant catch and that’s why the game was with them.

“You should give credit to Zaman Khan for the way he bowled that over. I have seen very few bowlers who have saved 13 runs from six balls, but he has been doing this a lot since the last two seasons, 11 from six balls, 15 from six, 13 from six.

“In the end, you can’t blame anyone or nitpick the mistakes when it went so close. The difference of one run is maybe because they have slightly more passion than our team, a bit more effort. There was obviously something different that the result went their way. When you lose or win by one run, you can’t complain because it means both sides played good cricket, so sometimes we can safely put that on fate.”

This season, Afridi surprised everyone with his batting. He spent a lot of time in the nets working on his big-hitting. In the league stage, he promoted himself up the order on a few occasions and did the same in the final as well.

Afridi wasn’t even padded up when Sikandar Raza got out in the 15th over, leaving the side at 112 for 5. Weise was about to walk in next when Afridi emerged from behind and stopped him. The move paid off as Afridi’s knock helped Qalandars post 200.

“Obviously we know Weise and Rashid [Khan] are someone who can score quickly even when there are only a few balls left. But in some games, I felt if I go in before them, it would be better for the team,” Afridi said. “And whenever I try something, I have the complete backing of [head caoch] Aaqib [Javed] bhai and [COO] Sameen [Rana] bhai.

“In fact, I had only one pad on. But I stopped him [Weise] because since Khushdil [Shah] was bowling, I didn’t want to give away an extra wicket. I thought if I could connect a couple, we could put them under pressure. And that’s exactly what happened.”

In the last two overs of the match, Sultans needed 35 runs. Haris Rauf went for 22 in the 19th but Zaman kept his nerve.

“Haris is not just Pakistan’s best bowler, he is the world’s best bowler,” Afridi said. “He has always won the games for his team, be it for Pakistan, Lahore Qalandars, or in any other league or even county cricket. I have always had blind trust in him, he always does well in such situations. Going for 22 in one over doesn’t change that.

“We were also lagging behind the over rate. But the way Zaman has improved, and the way he delivered in that last over, full credit goes to him because we only had four fielders outside the circle.”

All that meant, Afridi became the first captain to win back-to-back PSL titles. For his growth as captain, he thanked Aaqib and Rana.

“Aaqib bhai and Sameen bhai have played a big role,” Afridi said. “They guided me as a player, groomed me as vice-captain for two years, and then handed me the captaincy. At times, there were bigger names in the team, like [Mohammad] Hafeez bhai, and I shouldn’t have been leading the side. So when you get it, you should grab it, and if the team has trust in you, then you should lead them to the best [of your abilities].”

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent

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