KARACHI: Mohammad Amir delivered when it mattered most as Karachi Kings pulled off a great act here on Saturday after sealing a Super-Over win against Multan Sultans here at the National Stadium and earn a direct entry into the Pakistan Super League final for the first time in five attempts.
The resumption of fifth edition’s four-match segment of playoffs — after a lull of eight months owing to the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic — on a sensational note was just the moment PSL organisers needed as the build-up a for a grand finish in Tuesday’s title-decider as Karachi await the winners of the Eliminator 2 on Sunday.
Multan — who made it to the playoffs for the first time after topping the league-round standings in their fourth season —now face an extra day to try their luck once against to set up another meeting with Karachi, provided they defeat either Lahore Qalandars or Peshawar Zalmi who were playing in Eliminator 1 when this report was being filed.
What seemed a stroll in the park for Karachi in the Qualifier after Multan had been restricted to 141-7, turned into a nightmare for them when, after being in a sound position, collapsed with the departure of redoubtable Babar Azam as four wickets crashed in the space of 16 balls for just six runs.
Despite skipper Imad Wasim (25 off 16 balls) striking a last-ball boundary off paceman Mohammad Ilyas to carry the team score to 141-8, Karachi only managed to force a Super Over with the scores tied.
Karachi scored 13 in the al-important over, thanks to Sherfane Rutherford who thrashed a four and six off two successive balls from Ilyas. Amir then utilised his experience by conceding just eight runs to send his team-mates into a state of frenzy as the interim head coach Wasim Akram and the backroom staff all sprinted onto the playing area to celebrate their team’s qualification.
Earlier, Babar played another high-class knock as the Pakistan all-format skipper effortlessly worked his way to 65 from 53 balls in a man-of-the-match performance that was embellished with five fours and two sixes. But the Karachi vice-captain was crestfallen by the abject loss of wickets at the backend.
Luck also favoured Babar. He survived a close call on 44 in the 12th over when Michael Gough turned down a LBW shout when the elegant right-hander played across to Ilyas. The England umpire was left vindicated after the DRS sought by Multan captain Shan Masood indicated the ball clipping the bails and not hitting the stumps.
Imad’s decision to field upon winning the toss was amply justified as Multan slumped to 38-3 in the Powerplay. Adam Lyth, the replacement opener from England, didn’t last long on his PSL debut when he was spectacularly caught at the wicket by a diving Chadwick Walton — who was again preferred over now Pakistan vice-captain Mohammad Rizwan as he was during the league phase of the competition — off Waqas Maqsood for nine, a tally which included a flicked six behind deep square leg off Amir.
Multan then suffered a huge setback with the fortuitous dismissal of their inspirational captain Shan Masood (3) — the ball ricocheted off bowler Amir’s boot onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end — and when Rille Rossouw was also run out, for five, Multan were in deep trouble at 36-3.
The most remarkable aspect of the opening five overs of the Qualifier was that four left-handers — including Zeeshan Ashraf — were at the batting crease while the bowling responsibilities in this period were carried out by the trio of left-armers Imad, Amir an Waqas.
Zeeshan, who had escaped being caught, appeared to be utterly frustrated at not being able to free his arms and ultimately paid the price when Alex Hales held a simple catch at mid-off to end his 19-ball stay of 21 runs.
Ravi Bopara, the tops-scorer in the innings with 31-ball 40 (three fours and one six) — and Khushdil Shah somewhat retrieved the situation by adding 40 from 36 deliveries but the left-handed Khushdil played a loose shot through the onside and found himself pouched in the deep by Sherfane Rutherford for just 17 to give Swabi-born paceman Arshad Iqbal his first wicket.
Arshad then grabbed a notable scalp when the 19-year-old got rid of Shahid Afridi — one of the most-feared all-rounders in his heyday — after a scratchy run-a-ball knock of 12. It was a typical way of getting out for the former Pakistan captain, a bottom-hand attempt to get underneath the fuller delivery to clear the midwicket fence was well held by Hales.
Bopara departed in the next over — 18th of the innings — as the ex-England player pulled Waqas straight down the throat of Iftikhar Ahmed as Multan further slid to 111-7.
Sohail Tanvir, now confined to ply his trade on domestic circuit and several franchised-based leagues around the globe, ensured Multan go past the 140-run mark with a feisty 25. The left-handed all-rounder’s 13-ball cameo included two sixes and a four.
Sohail later starred with the ball with three key wickets but his heroics were not enough to see Multan get over the line.
Zeeshan Ashraf c Hales b Imad 21
A. Lyth c Walton b Waqas 9
Shan Masood run out 3
R.R. Rossouw run out 5
R.S. Bopara c Iftikhar b Waqas 40
Khushdil Shah c Rutherford b Arshad 17
Shahid Afridi c Hales b Arshad 12
Sohail Tanvir not out 25
Mohammad Ilyas not out 5
EXTRAS (LB-4) 4
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 141
FALL OF WKTS: 1-19, 2-23, 3-36, 4-40, 5-80, 6-101, 7-111.
DID NOT BAT: Imran Tahir, Mohammad Irfan.
BOWLING: Imad Wasim 2-0-11-1; Mohammad Amir 4-0-27-0; Waqas Maqsood 4-0-26-2; Arshad Iqbal 4-0-21-2; Iftikhar Ahmed 3-0-17-0; Parnell 3-0-35-0.
Sharjeel Khan c Imran b Sohail 4
Babar Azam c Zeeshan b Sohail 65
A.D. Hales run out 22
Iftikhar Ahmed c Shan b Afridi 13
Imad Wasim not out 27
C.AK. Walton c Lyth b Sohail 2
S. Rutherford c Zeeshan b Imran 1
W.D. Parnell run out 1
Mohammad Amir c Khushdil b Ilyas 1
Waqas Maqsood not out 1
EXTRAS (W-3) 3
TOTAL (for eight wkts, 20 overs) 141
FALL OF WKTS: 1-19, 2-61, 3-90, 4-117, 5-119, 6-122, 7-123, 8-135.
DID NOT BAT: Arshad Iqbal.
BOWLING: Lyth 1-0-4-0; Sohail Tanvir 4-0-25-3; Mohammad Irfan 2-0-22-0; Mohammad Ilyas 4-0-29-1 (1w); Imran Tahir 4-0-22-1; Khushdil Shah 2-0-8-0; Shahid Afridi 3-0-30-1 (1w).
RESULT: Match tied; Karachi Kings win one-over eliminator.
UMPIRES: M.A. Gough (England) and Rashid Riaz (Pakistan).
TV UMPIRE: Asif Yaqoob (Pakistan).
MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees (Pakistan).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Babar Azam.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2020