Shane Watson’s unbeaten 90-run knock for the Quetta Gladiators consigned a subdued Karachi Kings side to their second-straight defeat of the Pakistan Super League 2018 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
The Aussie veteran carried the bat, smacking seven 6s in his boundary-laden innings to help his side to a sizable 180-run total, which the Kings never looked like reaching, eventually falling 67 runs short.
After the Kings won the toss and opted to field first. Watson and Asad Shafiq opened the batting for the Gladiators, with Imad Wasim and Mohammad Amir sharing the new ball for the Kings.
While opening the bowling with spin has at times worked in the tournament, it didn't this time, with Watson smacking Imad for a four in the opening over and three sixes in the third over.
A tight first over (just 3 conceded) by Usman Khan Shinwari meant the Gladiators were 37-0 after 5. But Watson continued his shellacking in the sixth, punishing Mohammad Irfan Jr for two 4s and a 6 — the latter being an unorthodox shot over the fine-leg boundary.
Crowd-favourite Shahid Afridi was introduced to the attack and after he was smacked for back-to-back fours, the wily veteran had his revenge, trapping Shafiq in front of the wickets.
Kevin Pietersen joined Watson at the crease to form a rare English-Aussie combo in PSL.
The Briton stepped up between 10th and 12th overs, hitting four 4s and a 6 during this span as Watson took the backseat.
Feeling a bit left out, Watson prised away the limelight from his partner, cracking this fantastic inside-out stroke on an Amir delivery.
By the end of the 16th over, the Gladiators had amassed 144 runs and the first-ever 200-run target of PSL seemed a genuine possibility.
However, Pietersen departed in the next over and that slowed down the flow of runs.
Watson smacked the seventh and final six in the final over but ended 10 runs short of what would've been the tournament's first century. His 90 were still good enough for PSL 2018's highest individual score until that point.
The Gladiators, in the end, finished with 180-4.
In reply, Joe Denly and Afridi opened the innings for the Kings but their partnership didn't last long as Mohammad Nawaz got the former stumped in the opening over with a superb away-spinner.
Afridi, in vintage Afridi style and after failing to connect on a few occasions, threw away his wicket when nothing worked. He attempted to lift one over the on side but the ball went completely the other way, finding the palms of Ben Laughlin — a sequence that evoked the memories of the numerous occasions Boom Boom had disappointed on during his international career when all eyes used to be fixated on him.
A few quiet overs later, Hasan Khan — the Gladiators' hero from last night — removed Colin Ingram before Laughlin did the same to Ravi Bopara as the Kings' hopes of a successful run chase faded.
At the end of over number 7, the Salman Iqbal-owned side were 36-4 and a massive 145 runs adrift of the their target.
With runs hard to come by for skipper Imad and Babar Azam, the latter took a risk — something he is never comfortable doing — leaving the ball handing in the air at long-on where Anwar Ali took a difficult but brilliant catch.
By the end of the 11th over, the Kings had lost half their line-up with just 61 runs on the board. At this point, the Kings had practically given up, content with rotating the strike when they needed runs quick and fast to bring the astronomical run-rate down.
Skipper Imad ended his team's 40-ball drought for a boundary by hitting a six to Rahat Ali in the 16th over, although he was out the very next ball, leading to an exchange of words between the two.
The two teams spent the last hour merely going through the motions, with the Gladiators having known that they were going to win and the Kings having accepted that there was little they could do about it.
On the last ball of the innings and with nothing to lose, Mohammad Rizwan opted to block an Anwar Ali ball, and that summed up the Karachi Kings innings really.
In the end, the Kings ended up losing by 67 runs.
Kings XI: Shahid Afridi, JL Denly, Babar Azam, CA Ingram, RS Bopara, Imad Wasim (c), Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Irfan jnr, Mohammad Amir, D Wiese, Usman Khan
Gladiators XI: Asad Shafiq, SR Watson, KP Pietersen, RR Rossouw, Rameez Raja (2), Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Anwar Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Khan, B Laughlin, Rahat Ali