A pair of half centuries by Joe Denly and Babar Azam coupled with a vintage Shahid Afridi bowling spell helped Karachi Kings defeat Multan Sultans by 63 runs in the 22nd fixture of the Pakistan Super League 2018 in Dubai on Saturday.
After Multan Sultans won the toss and invited Karachi Kings to bat first, the new pairing of Joe Denly and Lendl Simmons took the crease. The two remained cautious at the start, the West Indian more so than the Englishman.
Simmons consumed 13 balls and scored just four before Mohammad Irfan sent him back to the dugout.
Babar Azam walked in.
By the end of 5 overs, the Kings were 30-1 and scoring at a measly six an over.
Denly took charge in the 9th and 10th overs, smacking two boundaries each off of Junaid Khan and Imran Tahir's deliveries.
He brought up his fifty in that same Tahir over, by the end of which the Kings were 68-1.
Denly was on a mission, almost single-handedly powering the Kings innings. Of the 95 runs scored by the end of the 13th over, 70 had come off the Englishman's willow.
Azam also played a few shots of his own, like the pretty looking six over the long-on boundary in the 14th over.
Denly finally departed in the 17th over. His and Azam's 118-run partnership was the highest for PSL 2018 until that point.
The standing ovation tells everything about the quality of his innings.
Ingram hit two consecutive 6s in the 18th over and Azam hit two consecutive 4s in the next over. The latter departed in the same over having scored a 39-ball 58. His second fifty of the tournament was proof that Azam can flourish in 20-over format as well.
Some late hitting by Colin Ingram saw Karachi Kings finish with 188-3 — the highest score of PSL 2018 and their highest score ever.
In reply, Kumar Sangakkara and Ahmed Shehzad, like they usually do at the very least, provided the Sultans a decent start.
Shehzad hit two 6s — one pretty and where he wanted to, the other ugly and a complete miscue.
The 5th, 6th and 7th and 8th overs saw Sangakkara, Sohaib Maqsood, Shehzad and Kieron Pollard depart one after the other as the Kings gained the upper hand. By the end of that 8th over, the Sultans were 62-4, with Saif Badar and Shoaib Malik at the crease.
Badar hit Shahid Afridi for a huge six in the 10th but was bowled out the very next ball. The reaction that the 19-year-old Badar's dismissal elicited from Afridi wasn't befitting of a veteran cricketer like him. Here's that sequence:
Afridi, who was bowling fast, wicket-to-wicket and with hostility of his heyday, bowled out his third Sultan of the innings, with his victim being his fellow veteran Malik.
The game, at this point, was all but over.
The tail extended the proceedings but the run chase had been dead for quite some time. Sohail Tanvir's late cameo of 29-ball 34 was of little use as the Sultans were all out for 125, falling 63 runs short.
Afridi was named the man of the match for his bowling figures of 3-18 in four overs.
Karachi Kings: Joe Denly, Lendl Simmons, Shahid Afridi, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, Ravi Bopara, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Imad Wasim (capt), Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan
Multan Sultans: Ahmed Shehzad, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik (capt), Kieron Pollard, Saif Badar, Sohail Tanvir, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Imran Tahir, Hardus Viljoen