DUBAI: Quetta Gladiators, bolstered by Shane Watson’s unbeaten 90, continued their surge in the HBL Pakistan Super League as they trounced Karachi Kings by 67 runs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday night.
Quetta built on the confidence they drew from Wednesday’s nail-biter against Multan Sultans to take another step toward the playoffs, jumping three places to second behind current leaders Multan Sultans. The defeat pushed Karachi down one spot to fourth.
Karachi, who won the corresponding fixture against Quetta by 19 runs at the same venue on Feb 23, stood no chance upfront in pursuit of a challenging 181-run target as they slumped to the biggest defeat in terms of runs in this edition.
The return of Shahid Afridi failed to inspire Karachi after the veteran all-rounder reported fit following issues with his knee. Mickey Arthur, their head coach, took a calculated risk by promoting Afridi in a bid to have a fair go at the target, but it misfired as Afridi holed out to mid-off for a six-ball single.
Earlier, Imad Wasim paid heavily for asking Quetta to bat first in conditions ideal for the game with dew non-existent.
Without wasting any time, Watson and Kevin Pietersen set about plundering the bowling. They shared a brilliant second-wicket partnership of 86 in 69 deliveries while setting a perfect foundation after Asad Shafiq (run-a-ball 16) had added 60 with the retired Australian all-rounder.
Watson’s 58-ball innings earned him two landmarks on the way. His knock supplanted the undefeated 85 made by Multan Sultans’ Sohaib Maqsood against Peshawar Zalmi on Tuesday while taking his overall aggregate past Sohaib’s team-mate Kumar Sangakkara, who has so far made 205 runs in this edition. Watson now enjoys a 57-run advantage.
Watson, the obvious choice for the man-of-the-match award, smashed seven sixes and five fours. Pietersen, the former England captain, meanwhile managed to blast 52 — his first major contribution — with the aid of seven fours and one six.
Scores in brief:
QUETTA GLADIATORS 180-4 in 20 overs (S.R. Watson 90 not out, K.P. Pietersen 52); KARACHI KINGS 113-8 in 20 overs (Imad Wasim 35, Babar Azam 32, Mohammad Rizwan 26 not out; Anwar Ali 2-21, Rahat Ali 2-29).
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018