DUBAI: Karachi Kings needed the power-punch of Kieron Pollard to send Lahore Qalandars out of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) for the second successive season with a remarkable last-ball victory at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.
With both teams needing a win to qualify for the playoffs, Karachi overcame anxious moments to deny their archrivals when Pollard bludgeoned back-to-back sixes off paceman Aamir Yamin, who was the given the enormous task of bowling the final with Karachi requiring 14 runs.
Mickey Arthur’s charges still 10 away from victory when Pollard deposited a full-length delivery over wide long-off much to the disappointment of Lahore skipper Brendon McCullum, who was patrolling the area.
The defining moment arrived when Pollard dismissively whipped the leg-stump ball over square leg fence to seal Lahore’s fate.
Karachi, who still have to play Islamabad United in Sunday’s last preliminary-round fixture, almost lost the plot when skipper Kumar Sangakkara, Babar Azam, Ravi Bopara and Shoaib Malik all perished in the space of 23 runs.
But Pollard, who until Saturday has had an indifferent tournament, came to the party when his franchise needed him most. Accompanying the tall West Indian right-hander was Imad Wasim who showed a lot of common sense in rotating the strike to allow his big-hitting partner to take charge.
The left-handed Pakistan all-rounder not only let Pollard take control but also maintained a good strike-rate as he scored 19 from 14 deliveries in the unbroken partnership of 55 with man-of-the-match Pollard.
Pollard, looking overly desperate to make up for his previous failures, smashed four sixes and one four in making 45 off 20 balls.
Babar also made an invaluable contribution at the top with 49 off 42 balls. The young Pakistan batsman hit seven boundaries, while Sangakkara’s 23-ball 20 included two fours as the pair made up of Mahela Jayawardene’s early loss, via a direct hit, by putting on 53.
Jayawardene made his PSL debut as Karachi finally lost patience with the under-performing Chris Gayle, who mustered a grand total of 59 runs from six innings.
Earlier, Lahore recovered from being six down for 100 runs midway through the 15th over to collect 155-6 on a pitch that was helping slow bowlers after Sangakkara decided to field first upon winning the toss.
His decision paid off well the left-handed Cameron Delport (3) was dismissed by Mohammad Amir on the fifth ball of this ‘do-or-die’ fixture for both these teams.
McCullum, who surprisingly had a modest first PSL, reached his highest score in the competition — 31 off 28 balls, five boundaries — while Fakhar Zaman (19 off 15 balls), Umar Akmal (20 off 22) and Sunil Narine (16) all got starts but failed to capitalize.
It was then left to Mohammad Rizwan and Sohail Tanvir to give Lahore a competitive total as the two engaged themselves in an unfinished stand of 55. Rizwan hit up 32 off 24 balls (two fours and one six), while Sohail contributed a 14-ball 22.
C.S. Delport c Sangakkara b Amir 3
B.B. McCullum c Babar b Usama 31
Fakhar Zaman c Imad b Sohail 19
Umar Akmal c Babar b Usama 20
S.P. Narine c Imad b Malik 16
G.D. Elliott c Usman b Malik 2 Mohammad Rizwan not out 32 Sohail Tanvir not out 22
EXTRAS (LB-2, W-8) 10
TOTAL (for six wkts, 20 overs) 155
FALL OF WKTS: 1-4, 2-40, 3-71, 4-93, 5-94, 6-100.
DID NOT BAT: Aamir Yamin, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Irfan.
BOWLING: Mohammad Amir 4-0-30-1 (1w); Imad Wasim 2-0-12-0; Sohail Khan 3-0-28-1 (2w); Usman Khan Shinwari 3-0-24-0; Usama Mir 4-0-38-2; Shoaib Malik 4-0-21-2 (1w).
Babar Azam c Umar b Fakhar 49 D.M.P.D. Jayawardene run out 10 K.C. Sangakkara c Aamir b Narine 20 Shoaib Malik run out 6 R.S. Bopara run out 2 Imad Wasim not out 19 K.A. Pollard not out 45
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, W-5) 7
TOTAL (for five wkts, 20 overs) 158
FALL OF WKTS: 1-27, 2-80, 3-84, 4-89, 5-103.
DID NOT BAT: Sohail Khan, Mohammad Amir, Usama Mir, Usman Khan Shinwari.
BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 4-0-40-0 (1w); Aamir Yamin 4-0-39-0; Narine 4-0-19-1 (3w); Mohammad Irfan 1-0-8-0; Yasir Shah 4-0-20-0; Elliott 1-0-14-0; Fakhar Zaman 1-0-3-1; McCullum 1-0-13-0.
RESULT: Karachi Kings won by five wickets.
UMPIRES: Shozab Raza (Pakistan) and R.E.J. Martinesz (Sri Lanka).
TV UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz (Pakistan).
MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees (Pakistan).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Kieron Pollard.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2017