DUBAI: A record partnership in the history of HBL Pakistan Super League was the plinth Karachi Kings needed here on Friday as they edged past Multan Sultans by seven runs with Mohammad Amir making welcome return to form with a four-wicket haul at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Liam Livingstone made a memorable PSL debut with a breathtaking knock as he and world’s top-ranked T20 batsman Babar Azam together forged the highest-ever stand of 157 in 94 balls that inspired Karachi to 183-6 after Imad Wasim had elected to bat first in blazing sunshine.
The Livingstone-Babar landmark usurped PSL’s previous highest partnership of 153, achieved by Islamabad United’s Sharjeel Khan and Shane Watson against Lahore Qalandars at Sharjah in the inaugural edition around three years ago.
Multan’s chase, in stark contrast, failed to match the start Karachi got from the openers. Shan Masood and Tom Moores were always going to struggle in getting easy runs against Imad and Amir and although Sohail Khan went for plenty, the damage-control action led by Amir and the admirable Usman Khan Shinwari made the real difference.
Livingstone, the 25-year-old Englishman who played two T20 Internationals against South Africa in 2017, was on course for career’s second ton in the format but after racing to 82 from only 43 deliveries the right-hander became one of three victims for spinner Chris Green.
The impact by Livingstone, who decorated his innings with half a dozen sixes and as many fours, was overwhelming and it came a little surprise when he beat Amir and Shinwari to the man-of-the-match award.
Babar, easily Pakistan’s top batsman in limited-overs cricket, played a composed innings as he struck six boundaries and a six in scoring 77 off 59 balls. Remarkably, no one else managed to get into double figures thereafter once the initial breakthrough was created by Multan in the 16th over.
Colin Ingram (1), Imad (4), Sikandar Raza (4), Ravi Bopara (3 not out), Mohammad Rizwan (1) and Sohail Khan (first-ball four) collectively didn’t get the opportunity of facing sufficient number of deliveries after the Livingstone-Babar show.
The Multan innings had its moments of big hitting when Shoaib Malik and Laurie Evans were together. Malik’s 28-ball 52 (featuring five fours and two sixes) and Laurie Evans’s 39-ball 49 gave their side some hopes but Amir saved his best to derail Multan with a magnificent 4-25 show.
Malik showed his true calibre in one over when the luckless Bopara was hit for four successive fours followed by a six and a brace from the last delivery.
Karachi now enjoy a 2-0 advantage over Multan in their three head-to-head meetings after the latter became the sixth team to join the PSL family last season, since the other game between them was washed out.
L.S. Livingstone c Russell b Green 82
Babar Azam c Shan b Greens 77
C.A. Ingram c Shan b Russell 1
Imad Wasim c Ilyas b Green 4
Sikandar Raza run out 4
R.S. Bopara not out 3
Mohammad Rizwan c Hammad b Junaid 1
Sohail Khan not out 4
EXTRAS (LB-3, W-4) 7
TOTAL (for six wkts, 20 overs) 183
FALL OF WKTS: 1-157, 2-165, 3-171, 4-171, 5-176, 6-178
DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan Shinwari, Umar Khan
BOWLING: Mohammad Irfan 3-0-25-0 (1w); Green 4-0-32-3 (2w); Junaid Khan 4-0-40-1; Shahid Afridi 3-0-25-0; Russell 3-0-25-1; Mohammad Ilyas 3-0-33-0 (1w)
Shan Masood c Amir b Umar 20
T.J. Moores c Ingram b Amir 1
L.J. Evans run out 49
Shoaib Malik c Sikandar b Usman 52
A.D. Russell c Rizwan b Amir 9
Shahid Afridi b Amir 14
Hammad Azam c Livingstone b Amir 12
C.J. Green c Ingram b Sohail 6
Mohammad Ilyas b Sohail 0
Junaid Khan not out 0
Mohammad Irfan not out 4
EXTRAS (LB-4, W-5) 9
TOTAL (for nine wkts, 20 overs) 176
FALL OF WKTS: 1-5, 2-52, 3-124, 4-137, 5-139, 6-165, 7-168, 8-172, 9-172
BOWLING: Imad Wasim 4-0-22-0; Mohammad Amir 4-0-25-4 (4w); Sohail Khan 4-0-57-2 (1w); Umar Khan 2-0-9-1; Usman Khan Shinwari 4-0-26-1; Bopara 2-0-33-0
RESULT: Karachi Kings won by seven runs.
UMPIRES: M.A. Gough (England) and R.E.J. Martinesz (Sri Lanka)
TV UMPIRE: Asif Yaqoob (Pakistan)
MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees (Pakistan)
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Liam Livingstone
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019