KARACHI: Table-toppers during the Covid-hit first leg in their hometown just over three months ago, Karachi Kings are now experiencing a shattering meltdown in defence of their HBL Pakistan Super League crown in Abu Dhabi after Peshawar Zalmi became the latest opponents to humiliate Imad Wasim’s charges.
Of late, Imad has had portrayed himself as reluctant captain of a side which has lost all three fixtures upon resumption of the competition at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium but none of the previous two defeats — against Multan Sultans and Islamabad United — was as chastening as the one late on Tuesday night.
After being curtailed to their lowest-ever total in the six-year PSL history, Karachi were eventually put out of their misery by a brutal assault from Hazratullah Zazai as Peshawar Zalmi romped hone by six wickets with 54 balls to spare.
The 23-year-old Afghanistan batsman not only proved a perfect replacement for David Miller — who had to take leave for South Africa’s impeding T20 International series in the West indies — but also marked an extraordinary debut in the PSL by striking the ball with immense power to a record-equalling half century — also jointly shared by Kamran Akmal (for Peshawar, also against Karachi at Lahore in 2018) and Islamabad United’s Asif Ali (versus Lahore Qalandars at Karachi in 2019) — in just 17 deliveries.
And despite the dramatic change in fortunes, Imad still maintained Karachi can get back their campaign on track.
“We lost three matches here [in Abu Dhabi] because of poor cricket on our part and that’s an honest assessment. But I do think it’s not the end of the world, and we’ll come back hard because we’ve still two more games to go [in the league stage].”
Imad conceded that Peshawar Zalmi played outstandingly to leave no room for Karachi to recover at any phase of the one-sided encounter.
“Peshawar were all over us in this match from ball one and picked up four wickets upfront, and our batting also lacked depth which further multiplied our problems. But I must say Peshawar bowled brilliantly throughout and hardly gave us any chance to regroup as a batting unit,” Imad conceded. “So yeah it happens in cricket and we should move on from here as quickly as possible. There is no point looking behind with matches coming up thick and fast. Our next game with Lahore Qalandars will be tough and then we play Quetta Gladiators.
“So there’s nothing to lose really as I see it and we’ll just go out there and enjoy ourselves, by playing good cricket because we are left with no option to but to win and completely forget what happened against Peshawar,” Imad concluded.
Zazai, in the meantime, revealed that he knew from the start of his innings that it was going to be his day.
“The captain [Wahab Riaz] and head coach [Darren Sammy] were supportive in giving confidence and told me to express myself when I went in to bat. Frankly speaking, I felt from the beginning [of my innings] that it would be my day. Alhamdulillah, I got the opportunity to express myself wholeheartedly,” Zazai, who bludgeoned 63 off just 26 balls (eight fours and four sixes) while dominating the second-wicket partnership of 84 in 38 deliveries with Haider Ali, remarked.
“Basically I love the ball coming onto the bat and thoroughly enjoyed playing a few shots, and the best among the lot was one six [a monstrous 97-metre blow over square leg] hit against [seamer] Aamir Yamin.
“Overall, I feel at home with the Peshawar Zalmi and everyone is very helpful. It’s a dream come true for me to be involved with a legend like Inzamam Bhai,” Zazai said of his relationship with Zalmi’s batting consultant Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former Pakistan captain and ex-chief selector.
Kings were also sweating on the fitness of Babar Azam who was dismissed for a first-ball duck when Wahab trapped him LBW with a vicious delivery on the right foot that saw the ace batsman limping off for a scan which fortunately came out clean.
Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Sharjeel Khan c Haider b Wahab 25 24 2 1 104.16 Babar Azam lbw b Wahab 0 1 0 0 0.00
M.J. Guptill c Kamran b Sameen 4 7 1 0 57.14
C.A.K. Walton lbw b Sameen 0 1 0 0 0.00
Najibullah Zadran c Haider b Abrar 17 27 1 0 62.96
Imad Wasim c Malik b Wahab 19 31 1 0 61.29
Aamir Yamin c Kamran b Abrar 0 2 0 0 0.00
Abbas Afridi not out 27 18 1 3 150.00
Waqas Maqsood st Kamran b Abrar 7 7 0 1 100.00
Mohammad Amir run out 1 2 0 0 50.00
Noor Ahmed not out 0 0 0 0 0.00
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, W-6) 8 - - - --
TOTAL (for nine wkts, 20 overs) 108 - - - --
FALL OF WKTS: 1-1 (Babar), 2-12 (Guptill), 3-12 (Walton), 4-37 (Sharjeel), 5-67 (Najibullah), 6-67 (Aamir Yamin), 7-73 (Imad), 8-86 (Waqas), 9-89 (Mohammad Amir).
BOWLING: Wahab Riaz 4-0-34-3 (1w); Mohammad Irfan 4-0-21-0 (3w); Sameen Gul 3-0-13-2 (2w); Shoaib Malik 2-0-9-0; Umaid Asif 3-0-15-0; Abrar Ahmed 4-0-14-3.
Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Hazratullah Zazai b Imad 63 26 8 4 242.30
Kamran Akmal b Aamir Yamin 9 9 2 0 100.00
Haider Ali st Walton b Noor 16 16 3 0 100.00
Shoaib Malik c Guptill b Imad 0 2 0 0 0.00
R. Powell not out 2 9 0 0 22.22
S.E. Rutherford not out 2 5 0 0 40.00
EXTRAS (LB-4, W-12, NB-1) 17 - - - --
TOTAL (for four wkts, 11 overs) 109 - - - --
FALL OF WKTS: 1-15 (Kamran), 2-99 (Hazratullah), 3-99 (Malik), 4-100 (Haider).
DID NOT BAT: Wahab Riaz, Umaid Asif, Sameen Gul, Mohammad Irfan, Abrar Ahmed.
BOWLING: Mohammad Amir 2-0-31-0 (1w); Aamir Yamin 2-0-27-1 (2w); Noor Ahmed 3-0-24-1(3w); Waqas Maqsood 1-0-8-0 (1nb, 2w); Abbas Afridi 1-0-13-0; Imad Wasim 2-1-2-2.
RESULT: Peshawar Zalmi won by six wickets.
UMPIRES: Ahsan Raza and Shozab Raza.
TV UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz.
MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees.
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Hazratullah Zazai (Peshawar Zalmi).
THURSDAY’S FIXTURES: Islamabad United vs Peshawar Zalmi (6:00pm PST); Karachi Kings vs Lahore Qalandars (11:00pm PST).
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2021