The Lahore Badshahs' unconquered reign was finally brought to a close, as the Heroes defended a target of 144 with a disciplined bowling effort to go 1-0 up in the best-of-three finals. Fortunately for the Badshahs, they can still recover from the blip, but the loss couldn't have come at a worse time.
The Heroes decided to bat and Abdul Razzaq gave them the early momentum with a brisk 21 off 12 balls. Steady partnerships were forged during the Heroes' innings - Jimmy Maher and Ambati Rayudu put on 27 before the latter and Kemp added 53 for the third wicket.
Although the Badshahs didn't manage to take wickets at regular intervals, they curbed the flow of runs. Mohammad Sami, who leaked runs in Thursday's semi-final against the Kolkata Tigers, bowled his four overs first up for 15 runs. Mushtaq Ahmed gave one less in the middle overs, and the lack of runs on offer reflected in the tally for the Heroes batsmen: Maher 33 off 34, Rayudu 44 off 42, and Kemp 11 off 20.
After 16 overs, Rayudu was sauntering with 23 off 32, but he did some damage from there on as 46 runs came off the last four overs bowled by Azhar Mahmood and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. Rayudu was cut short of 44 by a direct hit from Inzamam-ul-Haq, but two no-balls from Naved-ul-Hasan in the final over saw him concede 17, and the Heroes reached 143..
Razzaq got the first breakthrough as the Badshahs began their chase, Imran Nazir's charge to send the ball into orbit sent him on the path to the dugout. Justin Kemp removed Humayun Farhat, and when Man-of-the-Match Stuart Binny picked up the prized scalps of Hasan Raza and Inzamam-ul-Haq, a seemingly easy target gained gargantuan proportions. At 50 for 4, the Badshahs were left needing a further 94 off ten overs.
Opener Taufeeq Umar kept ticking the strike over at one end, but it was the pyrotechnics from Azhar Mahmood (34 off 16) that breathed life into the Badshahs' innings.
Naved-ul-Hasan made a few amends for his expensive analysis - 47 off four overs - with a six and a four in the penultimate over bowled by Nicky Boje, leaving his team with 12 to get off the 20th. The drama was heightened as Razzaq struggled with his line, giving away three wides. With seven required off four, Umar swing and missed, and the attempted single led to the run-out of Naved-ul-Hasan. Razzaq finally got it straight, and Sami's bat met thin air - the wicket, a dot ball too, made it 7 off 2. Shahid Nazir, the star with the ball in Thursday's match, failed to connect his first ball and was bowled when a last-ball six was needed to tie.
The Heroes scraped home by six runs, and though they have the advantage, the form and prowess of the Badshahs will be tough to overcome for the second match in succession. The teams have a day's break before the next game in Hyderabad on Sunday, and the Heroes could delight the city they represent by clinching the Rs 25 million (approx US$0.625 m) prize on offer.Hyderabad Heroes v Lahore Badshahs, 1st final, ICL