ABU DHABI: Karachi Kings’ Danish Aziz hits out during the HBL PSL match against Quetta Gladiators on Saturday. — Courtesy PCB
ABU DHABI: Karachi Kings’ Danish Aziz hits out during the HBL PSL match against Quetta Gladiators on Saturday. — Courtesy PCB

KARACHI: Reigning champions Karachi Kings left it until the very end to grab the last playoff spot in the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Needing a win in the penultimate fixture of the league phase, Karachi not only achieved their objective — defeating Quetta Gladiators by 14 runs — but also sent Lahore Qalandars packing home.

After finishing fourth on the table, Karachi will play Peshawar Zalmi in Eliminator 1 on Monday, while leaders Islamabad United and Multan Sultans square off in the Qualifier the same day.

On a Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch not conducive for flamboyant batting particularly during the second half, Karachi comfortably defended a total of 176-7 by restricting bottom-placed Quetta to 162-6 despite a defiant knock from captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, who hit up an undefeated 51 off 33 balls — Quetta’s solitary half-century of the Abu Dhabi leg. Seamer Mohammad Ilyas starred with 3-39.

Earlier, a late onslaught by Danish Aziz engineered a great comeback for Karachi who found themselves in a deep hole when their fifth wicket went down in the 17th over. The talented left-hander — the only Karachi-born cricketer in the Kings XI — changed the entire tempo of the innings in the penultimate over during which he mauled Australian seamer Jack Wildermuth for four consecutive sixes, including one a high full toss deemed a no-ball, while the over yielded a PSL record 33 runs.

Danish was certainly in sight of registering the fastest-ever 50 in the competition’s history but Khurram Shehzad denied him with a brilliant slow delivery that hit the base of the off stump. Danish’s 13-ball blitz of 45 featured five sixes ad two sixes. Chadwick Walton played his role superbly with an unbeaten 34 off 27 deliveries (two sixes and two fours) and let Danish take Quetta bowlers to the cleaners during their partnership of 53 off just 18 balls.

Quetta, who could do nothing right throughout the tournament, had nothing to lose after being eliminated from the playoff race for the second season on the trot, and opted to make wholesale changes — five altogether — to their playing XI. Their ploy to induct spinning all-rounders Arish Ali Khan and Quetta-born Abdul Nasir worked wonders.

Undaunted by having to bowl at the classy Babar Azam and the swashbuckling Sharjeel Khan, they operated in tandem to stage Quetta’s brilliant comeback after both Naseem Shah and Jack Wildermuth were too loose with the new ball.

Babar — who became the first batsman in the HBL PSL to bring up 2,000 runs when he reached 6 — slog swept straight to Hassaan Khan inside the midwicket boundary with his score on 23 after playing second fiddle to Sharjeel during the first-wicket partnership of 71 in 56 deliveries.

Runs for Sharjeel — who scored 45 off 34 balls — literally seemed to have dried up in the desert since the start of the Abu Dhabi leg. He needed a slice when Azam Khan dropped him on eight at point off Naseem. The portly left-handed pressed on the accelerator to smoke four sixes and three fours until chopping the ball onto the stumps in trying a late cut against Arish, who two balls earlier had dismissed Martin Guptill with the first delivery of his spell.

The slow left-armer from Karachi finished with admirable figures of 4-28, while off-spinner Nasir was tidy in claiming Babar’s prized wicket.

Current standings

(Tabulated under, played, won, lost, tied, no-result, points, net run-rate):

Islamabad United 9 7 2 0 0 14 +0.945

Multan Sultans 9 5 4 0 0 10 +1.192

Peshawar Zalmi 10 5 5 0 0 10 +0.586

Karachi Kings 10 5 5 0 0 10 -0.115

Lahore Qalandars 10 5 5 0 0 10 -0.589

Quetta Gladiators 10 2 8 0 0 4 -1.786

*updated after Karachi Kings vs Quetta Gladiators fixture on Saturday.

Scoreboard

KARACHI KINGS:

Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Sharjeel Khan b Arish 45 34 3 4 132.35

Babar Azam c Hassaan b Nasir 23 25 3 0 92.00

M.J. Guptill c Hassaan b Arish 5 5 1 0 100.00

Najibullah Zadran b Arish 12 13 0 1 92.30

C.A.K. Walton not out 34 26 2 2 125.92

Imad Wasim c Hassaan b Arish 3 4 0 0 75.99

Danish Aziz b Khurram 45 13 2 5 346.15

Mohammad Ilyas run out 1 1 0 0 100.00

EXTRAS (W-6, NB-2) 8 - - - --

TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 176 - - - --

FALL OF WKTS: 1-71 (Babar), 2-76 (Guptill), 3-80 (Sharjeel), 4-99 (Najibullah), 5-121 (Imad), 6-174 (Danish), 6-176 (Ilyas)

DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Amir, Arshad Iqbal, Noor Ahmed.

BOWLING:Naseem Shah2-0-15-0 (1nb, 2w); Wildermuth 3-0-53-0 (1nb); Khurram Shehzad 3-0-25-1;Abdul Nasir 4-0-15-1; Hassaan Khan4-0-40-0; Arish Ali Khan 4-0-28-4.

QUETTA GLADIATORS:

Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

J. Weatherald b Arshad 24 24 3 1 100.00

Saim Ayub c Walton b Ilyas 19 15 1 2 126.66

Usman Khan c Imad b Ilyas 15 13 0 1 115.38

Sarfaraz Ahmed not out 51 33 8 0 154.54

Azam Khan c Amir b Arshad 15 12 1 1 125.00

Hassaan Khan run out 24 15 4 0 160.00

Abdul Nasir c Danish b Ilyas 0 2 0 0 0.00

J.D. Wildermuth not out 8 6 1 0 133.33

EXTRAS (W-5) 5 - - - --

TOTAL(for six wkts, 20 overs) 162 - - - --

FALL OF WKTS: 1-32 (Saim), 2-48 (Weatherald), 3-72 (Usman), 4-91 (Azam), 5-123 (Hassaan), 6-127 (Nasir).

DID NOT BAT: Arish Ali Khan, Khurram Shehzad, Naseem Shah.

BOWLING:Imad Wasim 4-0-34-0; Mohammad Amir4-0-21-0;Mohammad Ilyas4-0-39-3 (2w); Arshad Iqbal4-0-39-2;Noor Ahmed4-0-29-0 (3w).

RESULT: Karachi Kings won by 14 runs.

UMPIRES: Asif Yaqoob and Shozab Raza.

TV UMPIRE: Ahsan Raza.

MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Javed Malik.

PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Danish Aziz (Karachi Kings).

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2021

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