Leg-spinner Farzan Raja starred with four wickets to fire Lahore Qalandars into tomorrow evening’s Abu Dhabi T20 final as they beat Hobart Hurricanes by 35 runs to secure top spot in Group A.

The Pakistanis’ challenging 181-6 proved too much for their Australian counterparts, with Mohammad Faizan’s 58 off 44 balls the feature.

He shared 74 for the second wicket with captain Sohail Akhtar, who added 37 to his match-winning century against Yorkshire less than 24 hours earlier.

English all-rounder Jordan Clark had a direct hand in five of the six Lahore wickets to fall, taking two wickets, two catches and completing a run out.

In reply, the Hurricanes, Big Bash finalists earlier this year, struggled to break free and finished on 146-8.

Raja, 23-years-old, returned an excellent 4-24 from his four overs.

Captain Charlie Wakim’s 43 was the standout innings for the Australians.

Lahore, who elected to bat, got off to a strong start before pace off the ball and the impressive quick Nathan Ellis (1-22 from four overs) dragged things back through the middle before 73 came off the last five overs.

Faizan came in at 24-1 in the fourth over and hit four fours and three sixes.

Ben Duckett, Hobart’s second Englishman, reverse swept three fours in a quick-fire 18 at the start of the chase, but he fell caught at point off Mazz Khan’s leg-spin trying to repeat the dose as the score fell to 27-1 in the third.

Spin kept the Hurricanes in check as they reached the 10-over mark at 70-2, needing 112 more.

When Wakim was lbw reverse sweeping at Raja in the 12th over, it left the score at 83-3.

The target became 80 off the last five (102-3) with Clark and Caleb Jewell together. But the task was just too great as Raja later struck twice in his final over, getting Jewell stumped and Johan Botha caught at wide long-on.

Hobart were left needing an almost impossible 51 from the last two overs with four wickets left.

Lahore’s victory means tomorrow morning’s (11am) clash between Hobart and Yorkshire is a dead rubber. But the Qalandars can look forward to the final (8pm).

“It’s great for the Rana family and the whole of the Qalandars organisation that there’s some return for the effort that’s been put into the development programme over the last three or four years.  It’s nice to see some young cricketers come through and win a couple of games. It’s been a long time coming. Raja was fantastic today. Last night I thought he was really good against Yorkshire, but unfortunately there were three or four balls which went through legs here and there, so his economy didn’t show how well he bowled. Winning the tournament would be great for us. Everyone who has been involved in recent years knows how hard guys from the top down to the bottom have worked to try and find young gems in Pakistan cricket and bring them through the Lahore Academy. What we’ve achieved already in this tournament is massive. Hopefully we can go one step further.”
*McClenaghan did not play in tonight’s game*
Mitchell McClenaghan – Lahore’s New Zealand fast bowler
“In the first innings I felt there were periods of really good bowling from us, but there were a few learners for the guys. It’s a big ask because it’s their first T20 games of the season, which makes it hard to come in and click as a team. We maybe let ourselves down with a few disciplines, too many no balls and wides.  It’s pretty tough conditions out there, your hands are wet and it’s hard to grip the ball. The batting was tough. It’s hard to push the twos because of how hot it is. The boundary options didn’t come easily for us, and it’s cost us. Hopefully we can put it right against Yorkshire tomorrow. Nathan Ellis bowled brilliantly, and I haven’t got a bad word to say about him. He executed his skills.” 
Jordan Clark, Hobart Hurricanes all-rounder

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