Yusuf Pathan’s masterclass took spectators on a nostalgic journey as he lit up the Harare Sports Club with his explosive batting, propelling the Joburg Buffaloes into the finals of the Zim Cyber City Zim Afro T10. The Buffaloes secured a thrilling six-wicket victory over the Durban Qalandars in the exhilarating Qualifier 1. Yusuf’s unbeaten 80 off just 26 deliveries orchestrated a remarkable chase, rewriting records in the process.

Batting first, the Durban Qalandars, who dominated the league stage, faced an initially sluggish start, losing the in-form Tim Seifert for 11 in the third over with the score at 16. However, the innings soon picked up pace as Mirza Tahir Baig and Andre Fletcher unleashed a barrage of boundaries against the Joburg Buffaloes’ bowlers. Fletcher’s aggressive strokeplay complemented Baig’s steady scoring, with the duo stitching together a quick 49-run partnership for the second wicket.

Yusuf Pathan
Yusuf Pathan celebrates 40 during his knock of 80 not out. Photo by Saikat Das / ACEIMAGES for Zim Afro T10

Victor Nyauchi ended Baig’s contribution at 20 in the sixth over, followed by the quick dismissals of George Linde (1) and Fletcher (39 off 14 balls). Asif Ali and Nick Welch then intensified the onslaught in the death overs, hammering sixes and boundaries to propel the Qalandars’ total to an impressive 140/4 in their allotted 10 overs – the highest score of the tournament at that stage.

In response, the Joburg Buffaloes stumbled at the start, with Mohammad Hafeez and Tom Banton unable to find their rhythm against the disciplined Qalandars’ bowling attack. Hafeez fell for 17, and Banton (4) was cleaned up by Tayyab Abbas, who later claimed the dangerous Will Smeed’s wicket (16) in the fifth over. The Buffaloes were in trouble at 56/3, with the Qalandars dominating the proceedings.

Amidst the pressure, Ravi Bopara contributed a mere 1 run before falling to Tendai Chatara. Then, Yusuf Pathan joined forces with Mushfiqur Rahim, knowing they had a mountain to climb. After consolidating their position, Yusuf unleashed his vintage brilliance in the 8th over, smashing three sixes and a boundary off Mohammad Amir in a stunning 25-run over, taking the Buffaloes past the 100-run mark.

With 39 runs required in the final two overs, Yusuf completed his fifty in the 9th over and continued his onslaught to the delight of the fans. In the last over, the Buffaloes needed 20 runs to secure victory, and Yusuf was in full flow. Displaying his old charm, he slammed two fours and two sixes, culminating the game with a boundary, guiding the Buffaloes into the Zim Afro T10 final with remarkable flair and fireworks.

Durban Qalandars – 140/4 (Andre Fletcher – 39, Asif Ali – 32; Noor Ahmad – 2/9, Blessing Muzarabani – 1/13) lost by 6 wickets against Joburg Buffaloes – 142/4 (Yusuf Pathan – 80, Mohammad Hafeez – 17; Tayyab Abbas – 2/19, Daryn Dupavillon – 1/17)