The Lahore Qalandars are the champions of the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20.

The Pakistan Super League side shocked South Africa’s Multiply Titans, the favourites for the competition, as they feverishly defended a target of 149, including 19 off the last over, to win by 15 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

Lahore have finished bottom of the PSL in each of its first three seasons, while the Titans have won the last three Ram Slam events.

Fledgling Pakistan international seamer Shaheen Afridi bowled a majestic penultimate over as he conceded only three runs off the bat and bowled key man Heino Kuhn, leaving fellow quick Harris Rauf breathing space in the last. The Titans finished on 133-6.

They recovered from early strife at 10-2 in pursuit, with experienced middle order batsman Kuhn and Test batsman Theunis de Bruyn hitting 37 apiece.

Both sides topped their respective groups, with Lahore the surprise package in Group A.

Albie Morkel elected to bowl first, and a largely disciplined display with the ball and in the field restricted Lahore to 148-6.

Captain Sohail Akhtar, a century maker against Yorkshire on Thursday, continued his good form with 56 off 47 balls, while South Africa international all-rounder Chris Morris returned a miserly 1-17 from four overs.

Morris had only conceded seven in his first three overs and struck in the last of the innings when he bowled Shehzad Ali.

Tshepo Moreki’s figures of 3-33 were spoilt by conceding 17 off the 18th when Englishman Phil Salt hit him for successive sixes.

Akhtar and Mohammad Faizan, who hit 32, shared 81 in 12 overs for the second wicket to advance from 26-1 in the fourth.

But they were two of three wickets to fall for four runs as Lahore slipped from 107-1 to 111-4. However, wicketkeeper-batsman Salt added some late impetus with an inventive 26 off 15 balls.

The Titans chances were undermined four balls into their reply when leg-spinner Maaz Khan trapped Tony de Zorzi, playing back, lbw for a golden duck.

The same bowler then forced Henry Davids to chop onto his stumps at the start of the third over as the score fell to 10-2.

Khan (2-23) bowled his four overs unchanged at the start of the innings and helped build pressure.

De Bruyn shared 60 for the third wicket with opener Rivaldo Moonsamy, who helped to steady the ship with 27 before slicing Agha Salman’s off-spin to short third-man as the score fell to 70-3 in the 11th.

That brought Kuhn to the crease, who busily chipped away at the target. He lost de Bruyn and had to get 23 off the last two overs.

But left-armer Afridi, 18-years-old, belied his tender years to expertly nail his yorkers and get the ball reverse swinging before Morkel and Morris failed to get Rauf away, sparking wild celebrations.

“Two years on the Qalandars player development programme, this is the number one for me in my career, then winning the 1992 World Cup as a player and then anything else.”

Aqib Javed, Lahore Director of Cricket

“The boys are on top of the world. The Titans were the team to beat out here. They have some big names. To come out so well with the ball having not done the first half so well, we’re really chuffed. I don’t think too many people were looking at our boys thinking we’d be the ones lifting the trophy, so that makes it a bit sweeter. We have a top-class bowling attack. Shaheen was top drawer, unbelievable. Rauf was as well. The reversed it miles and didn’t miss the hole with their yorkers.”

Phil Salt – Lahore Qalandars

“Not getting over the line is disappointing. I thought we did well with the ball and in stages with the bat, but they bowled well in the last six or seven overs and put us under immense pressure. Shaheen Afridi was brilliant in that penultimate over. He didn’t miss his yorker, and it was reversing miles, which made it so tough. Credit to him. It’s just frustrating because we were in control for most of the game.”
Albie Morkel – Multiply Titans