PSL 2016: Match 18

Fawad Rana is something between expression-less and emotional but he certainly had his hopes shattered. His mustache lowered, elbows resting on the stand and his brain is trying to process the agonizing stimulus his eyes just received.

Exactly 15 balls ago, on the wicket of Muhammad Nawaz, Fawad Rana was seen dancing his tensions away. But there is a surprise in the form of Muhammad Nabi who is sent very late.

15 runs were required from the last over and Lahore Qalanders had used up all the pacers. So the verdict was to bowl a left-arm spinner, Zohaib Khan. He fired a full yorker-length delivery – as good as it could get at the moment from a left-arm spinner. Nabi can only jam it back. On the next ball, Nabi hits a four.

Lahore Qalanders, almost there..

Then, a six. And it comes down to only 3 required off the last ball. Nabi backs away and Zohaib throws it wider that Alan Wilkins, even before it goes out of the 30-yard-circle and hits the boundary, calls it a ‘bad ball’.

Lahore is out, not because Karachi wins their next match, they don’t. But because Lahore Qalanders lose their next match Vs Islamabad United where Fawad Rana is standing emotionless. His head is dropped. It’s like somebody paused the TV. They were almost there.

PSL 2017: Match 18

Another 18th match.

Another last over thriller.

14 runs required off last over and they have a pacer, Aamir Yamin, this time. First, four balls yield next to nothing but the big man Pollard hits two sixes, where the bowler misses a wide yorker and, well, a straight yorker on last two balls. It’s another heartbreak for Lahore Qalanders and Karachi demolishes Islamabad in the next match to qualify and stamp out Qalanders.

Almost there.

Lahore Qalanders, almost there..

PSL 2018: Match 24

Sixteen needed off the last over. Thanks to Sohail Akhtar’s four and a six, 3 off the last ball. Shinwari round the wicket and almost hits blockhole and Sohail Akhtar tried all of his wrists to manage it into the hands of long-on.

Almost there. Actually there because of the drama Shinwari creates crossing the line. It’s a no ball.

PSL 2019: Match 28

It is not even Lahore’s match but they are stuck to the TV screens. And as always, their ticket to the playoff is in doubt. Quetta Gladiators need 5 off the last over with Anwar Ali on strike and Ahmad Shahzad standing on the other side on 99. He gets what he wants – a single. The next ball, all the can manage is a thick slice into the hands of Ingram at mid-off.

Lahore Qalanders, almost there..

Anwar Ali edges behind and Sarfraz chops on. Those balls were nowhere near the blockhole but wickets came. Here’s that gut-wrenching occasion for Qalanders. 3 required off the last ball for the zillionth time. They aren’t even playing this time but their minds are virtually more involved than the teams in the ground. Shamwari bullets this one on the pads off Sohail Tanvir and only a single is what they get.

Almost.


It’s been a rollercoaster ride every year for Qalanders.

They have the first pick in the draft. They pick players like McCullum and AB de Villiers. But every sequel of their movie does not have a happy ending. There is happiness. There are emotions. There are more-than-fifty shades of Fawad Rana. There is a thrill. There is the supply of players to the national team. There are player development programs. There are last-ball wins and defeats. But there are no happy endings.

Lahore Qalanders, almost there..

Qalanders are jokingly called as a similar version of Pakistan cricket team but they are even bigger. Pakistan’s chances in a tournament are, sometimes, based on conditions – if that team wins and that loses, then Pakistan would qualify. But those conditions aren’t very friendly with Qalanders. They lose their spot in other teams’ matches.

Brendon McCullum was forced to do something he didn’t even do in World Cup 2015 final. He had to change his game which he’s been playing for years. He wasn’t a player who goes with under run-a-ball strike rate even in his nightmares. But he went under run-a-ball on which Ramiz Raja joked on air,

“Look what they (Qalanders) have done to him”.

Lahore Qalanders, almost there..

It’s heartening to see Fawad Rana disappointed even for many non-Lahore fans seeing the constant struggle Qalanders make in every season and fail eventually.

Here’s an OST on Fawad Rana:

Dil Ghalti kar betha hai
Ghalti kar betha hai dil
Dil ghalti kar betha
Tu bol, kafara kya hoga?

What will be the Kafara, the redemption for Lahore Qalanders? It will always be the continuous smile on the face of Fawad Rana. A stable team. A place in the playoffs is too less, a tournament win (not some global UAE league) will do it nicely.

They were almost there – almost.