KARACHI: Imad Wasim paid tribute to the bowlers for inspiring his side to their maiden Pakistan Super League (PSL) title after Karachi Kings sealed a five-wicket victory over old foes Lahore Qalandars in a low-scoring final here at the National Stadium.
The elated Karachi skipper — while talking to reporters from the podium before the post-match prize ceremony — observed whatever the nature of playing surface that was dished out for the title-decider, there was no doubt about Karachi’s dominating team performance.
The icing on the cake was provided by Babar Azam’s undefeated 63 from 49 balls as the Pakistan captain across all three formats — who was adjudged man-of-the-match, best batsman of the league and player-of-the-tournament — as Karachi Kings reached 135-5 in 18.5 overs to clinch their maiden PSL title.
“It was entirely a team effort and everyone contributed in this great achievement. The Karachi Kings squad deserves to be applauded because we knew once we had restricted Lahore Qalandars down to 134-7, there was no way we’ll lose the final,” Imad remarked. “Everyone chipped in, the bowlers, fielders and the batsmen. Babar Azam was again outstanding in producing a brilliant innings that made it easy for us in the [run] chase.”
Imad disagreed that the pitch was not suitable for a final of this standing.
“I don’t think the pitch was that bad for a final, although it was slow. And probably barring one track, the playoffs were staged on decent pitches. Our bowlers [Umaid Asif, Waqas Maqsood, who each returned figures 2-18 and Arshad Iqbal 2-26] were brilliant throughout while taking wickets at regular intervals. Moreover, they were also helped by excellent fielding because we felt it was a 160-170 pitch.”
The Pakistan all-rounder, who only plays white-ball cricket, also offered his gratitude to interim head coach Wasim Akram and the team management.
“Even off the field, the way Wasim Bhai put in hard work to instill confidence in the players and the way the team management backed us throughout the tournament. So you may say it was a team combination from all fronts which ultimately made Karachi Kings the champions.”
Sohail Akhtar, the dejected Lahore Qalandars captain, lamented the slow-paced pitch didn’t all his batsmen to score quickly at the start.
“I think we were 20-30 runs short in setting up a challenging total for them [Karachi Kings] to chase. Our game plan was to get decent score on the board considering this being a final and big pressure on the players but contrary to our expectations, the pitch was too slow and the ball was not coming onto the bat,” Sohail said.
“And had we managed our objectives upfront, the [end] result would have been different. At the same time credit to the Karachi bowlers because they didn’t allow our batsmen to dictate terms.”
Sohail continued, “But having said that I still maintain the set batsmen [Tamim Iqbal and Fakhar Zaman] should have stayed until the end to give us a chance to get more runs than we managed. That could have made Karachi’s chase a bit tougher but there are occasions when all your plans don’t go the way you want.
“Probably in hindsight you may say our decision to bat first completely backfired because the pitch played slightly better in the second half. We must also not forget the Babar Azam factor which yet again proved the big difference. And we all know Babar is a world-class player and had we got him very early [in the chase], it could have opened up the match.”
Meanwhile, Sohail hoped Lahore would put up a better performance in the next edition.
“Through our player development program [PDP], we have found some really talented players like Haris Rauf and Dilbar Hussain both of whom performed very well. Emerging player Mohammad Faizan is also looks promising but due to lack of opportunities, he didn’t perform up to his capability. Insha’Allah next year we all not only see a new Faizan but also a new crop of players from the PDP,” Sohail remarked.
Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2020