Karachi Kings on Tuesday night were crowned the 2020 Pakistan Super League winners after beating Lahore Qalandars by five wickets, their first-ever title of Pakistan's premier Twenty20 tournament.
One of the world's leading batsmen, Babar Azam knocked a commanding half-century to help his side win their first championship in five years at Karachi National Stadium.
Azam smashed seven boundaries in his 49-ball 63, but it was skipper Imad Wasim who hit the winning boundary to help the Kings overhaul a modest 135-run target in 18.4 overs.
The final — one of the most anticipated in PSL's short history, given the rivalry between the country's two biggest cities — was played after a gap of nearly eight months after the PSL's fifth edition came to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Kings will take home a glittering trophy plus a $500,000 purse, while Lahore received $200,000.
The Kings began their innings on a high note, with openers Babar Azam and Sharjeel Khan both hitting two boundaries each in the first two overs.
Qalandars had their first breakthrough in the fourth over, however, with Sharjeel (13 off 12) getting caught splendidly by Fakhar Zaman off Samit Patel's first ball.
Alex Hales, who contributed 11 runs from as many balls, was bowled out by Dilbar Hussain in the seventh over.
Babar (53 off 42) and Chadwick Walton then piled on runs as the Kings reached 110-2 in 15 overs.
Dilbar struck again in the 16th over, bowling out Walton (22 off 27), while Haris Rauf sent both Iftikhar Ahmed and SE Rutherford packing on consecutive balls.
Imad Wasim hit a stylish four to end Kings' innings at 135-5 and lift their maiden PSL trophy.
Lahore Qalandars, who opted to bat first after winning the toss, earlier finished at 134-7 in the showdown against Karachi Kings.
President Arif Alvi congratulated Karachi Kings on winning the title, terming it "a good win".
Federal minister Asad Umar too congratulated the winners, saying in a tweet: "Babar Azam is The King!!!"
Multan Sultans, whom Kings had defeated in the qualifier to reach the PSL final for the first time, conveyed congratulations on Twitter as well.
Lahore Qalandars innings
Qalandars' batting got off to a confident start, with Fakhar Zaman and Tamim Iqbal putting 30 runs on the scoreboard between them in five overs.
By the end of the 10th over, the duo managed to score 68 runs for Qalandars without any loss of wicket.
The spell was broken soon after, however, with Tamim Iqbal (35 off 38) falling to Umaid Asif, who also dismissed Fakhar Zaman (27 off 24) three balls later. Both openers were caught by Iftikhar Ahmed.
More good news followed for the Kings, with in-form Mohammad Hafeez (2 from 4) caught by Babar Azam off skipper Imad Wasim on the first ball of the 12th over. He was replaced by Samit Patel, who contributed five runs from eight balls before being caught off Arshad Iqbal.
Qalandars were 94-4 at the end of 15 overs.
Ben Dunk (11 off 144) also fell to Arshad Iqbal, taken at deep midwicket by Babar. Captain Sohail Akhtar (14 off 14) and Muhammad Faizan (0) were both dismissed by Waqas Maqsood.
Shaheen Afridi hit a six and a four in the very last over as the Qalandars finished their innings at 134-7.
The fifth edition of PSL started on February 20, but was abandoned after 30 of its 34 matches after England player Alex Hales, playing for Kings, reported symptoms of Covid-19.
It resumed on Saturday behind closed doors, with the Kings beating the Multan Sultans in the qualifier while Lahore downed Peshawar Zalmi and the Sultans in two eliminators to book a place in the final.
"The way our momentum has been built up and the positive cricket we are playing means we're confident of putting up a good show," said Qalandars' skipper Sohail Akhtar after winning the toss on Tuesday, according to EspnCricinfo.
Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim said: "We'll just have to be at our best and hold our nerve. This is just cricket, not war, and we have to trust our process."
On Monday, Wasim, whose team reached their maiden PSL final after sealing a Super Over win against Multan Sultans on Saturday, had noted what sets this title-decider apart. “Dream final has been talk of the town even before the playoffs began, and here we are about to realise that dream of not our two teams but the huge following from every nook and corner."
The most alluring aspect of PSL is that each edition had provided different matchups in the title-decider, meaning no two same sides have confronted each other for the trophy in any of the five seasons. Two-time champions Islamabad United upstaged Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi, respectively, in the finals of 2016 and 2018; Peshawar prevailed over a depleted Quetta to be crowned winners in 2017 before Quetta exacted sweet revenge by defeating Peshawar in the 2019 finale.
But this was said to be the biggest final in terms of rivalry because both Karachi and Lahore have a rich history on sporting fronts over the years at the domestic level, particularly in the period from the 1960s onward until the late 1990s.
KARACHI KINGS: Babar Azam, Sharjeel Khan, Alex Hales, Chadwick Walton (wk), Imad Wasim (capt), Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Shane Rutherford, Umaid Asif, Arshad Iqbal, Waqas Maqsood
LAHORE QALANDARS: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal, Sohail Akhtar (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ben Dunk (wk), David Weise, Samit Patel, Mohammad Faizan, Dilbar Hussain, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi.