Billings dons gloves as the Kent duo win Pakistan Super League

With his Kent team-mate Jordan Cox, who is part of the wider squad, Kent Men captain Sam Billings was on the field as the Lahore Qalandars secured their Pakistan Super League (PSL) title with a thrilling one-run win over Multan Sultans defended at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

The Kent Spitfires’ T20 opener for 2023 takes place at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in Canterbury v Gloucestershire on Wednesday 24 May – entry to all scheduled T20 home games is included with Kent Cricket Memberships which are now available.

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Billings had contributed nine runs and batted with four after Qalandars captain Shaheen Shah Afridi won the toss and opted to bat first. The game started after a short delay as the stadium lights took some time to come back on after a spectacular opening show that included fireworks.

After Multan Sultans set a target of 201 wins thanks to big hits from Afridi (44 from 15) and Abdullah Shafique (65 from 40), the match went by until the final. Sultans needed 13 to win from their last six balls after being put into that position by Rilee Rossouw’s 52-of-32-7 skipper Mohammad Rizwan and scoring 34-of-23.

Clever bowling from right-arm pacesetter Zaman Khan ensured the Qalandars retained their title as champions of the PSL, despite the Sultans needing four from the last delivery – although the Sultans nearly scored a ‘three’ to tie-break the game to lead .

Billings added the PSL trophy to his Vitality Blast and IPL career victories with Kent and Chennai Super Kings, respectively, after contributing to the win with Khushdil Shah’s run-out.

After the win, Billings said: “That’s what T20 cricket is about – what great promotion for the game and great to be on the winning side.

“It was my first cricket experience in Pakistan and it didn’t disappoint. The noise was something I have never experienced before, you can feel the passion for cricket here.

“The game itself kept faltering – Rilee Rossouw’s wicket was a big moment and the game spun and spun.”

While the Qalandars’ eliminator reached the finals yesterday, Billings had contributed an important 28 runs from 21 balls in the Qalandars’ middle order to help them achieve their successful 176/6 run chase, despite being 69/3 to at one point a Peshawar team that included former Kent Spitfires left arm pacemaker Wahab Riaz.

Billings was the Qalandars’ first-choice wicketkeeper throughout the tournament – the first the Kent men’s skipper experienced in Pakistan.

Overall, the Kent skipper has contributed 235 runs in his ten games with an average of 26.11, leading the middle rankings against Multan Sultans with a maximum score of 54 in the group stage.

Saturday’s PSL Showpiece match marked the second time both Cox and Billings have been involved in a franchise T20 tournament final this winter – 22-year-old Cox won the inaugural SA20 competition with Sunrisers Eastern last month Cape, while Billings’ Desert Vipers squad finished second at the inaugural ILT20, held in the UAE.

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