KARACHI: Imad Wasim, the Karachi Kings captain, was standing tall on the pitch. His uppercut off Salman Irshad flew for six, bringing up his half-century and he was keeping his side in the contest. It brought Peshawar Zalmi head coach Darren Sammy to the boundary ropes for a chat with captain Babar Azam. A game they seemingly had in the bag was slipping away.
To the delight of a largely pro-Karachi crowd here at a packed National Stadium, Imad and Shoaib Malik were keeping the Kings afloat in this humdinger of a clash, especially because of the storylines it had thrown up. But they still needed 53 off the last four overs to overhaul Zalmi’s 199-5 and after Lahore Qalandars’ one-run victory over Multan Sultans on Monday, the HBL Pakistan Super League was delivering incredible drama again.
On the second ball of the 17th over, Malik was dropped by Wahab Riaz off James Neesham at deep midwicket and he made Zalmi pay for that error by launching a six in the same region two balls later. Imad picked away Salman Irshad for a six and thrashed another boundary before Malik finished off the over with a four to raise his half-century.
Malik (52), though, didn’t last long and Wahab got him caught behind on the second ball of the penultimate over and almost had Ben Cutting on the very next ball only for Neesham to misjudge the flight of the ball. The Kings then didn’t make the most of a free-hit and it left them needing 16 to win off the last over.
Khurram Shehzad then held his nerve in bowling the final over, where he also overstepped. But even though Imad hit his fourth six of the match on the last ball to finish on a 47-ball 80, the Kings ended two runs short.
This was a statement win for Babar. As Kings captain last season, Babar had managed to lead his side to just one win in 10 matches. Having jumped ship after six seasons with the Kings, he notched his first win as Zalmi captain in his very first match.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore did the early damage with the bat, hitting six sixes and seven fours as he smashed 92 off 50 deliveries whilst sharing a game-changing 139-run partnership with skipper Babar, who made 68, to help Zalmi post an imposing total after being put into bat.
It hadn’t looked as if the game would go the distance after the Kings got off to the worst possible start in their chase with Sharjeel Khan getting caught behind off Wahab, the man who Babar replaced as Zalmi skipper, on the first ball he faced. It silenced the crowd but they were soon roaring as Matthew Wade, on his PSL debut, sparkled briefly.
The Australian, whose power-hitting knocked Pakistan out of the Twenty20 World Cup semi-final in 2021, hit three fours and a six in a 15-ball 23 before he mistimed a delivery from James Neesham and found Kohler-Cadmore at mid-on. The same combination then saw the end of Qasim Akram before the Kings were reduced to 46-4 when Salman Irshad induced a leading edge from Haider Ali that was grasped by Saim Ayub at cover. The Kings were reeling but Imad and Malik stuck in for a 131-run partnership to provide a grandstand finish.
The battle lines had been drawn, a rivalry created between the teams when Babar left the Kings for Zalmi ahead of the season. Pakistan’s all-format captain coming up against Mohammad Amir, the pacer who’s been out of national reckoning, had added further intrigue.
Some of Amir’s recent comments about Babar, Pakistan’s batting behemoth, had been in bad taste and he came second-best in their tussle. In the five deliveries he bowled to Babar, he was hit for two fours — the first a trademark cover drive by the Zalmi skipper, gave away a single and was blocked off on the other two.
It was Kohler-Cadmore, though, who took the limelight away from that mini-battle with his impeccable hitting; especially down the ground. Arriving in the second over with his side in a spot of bother at 16-2; Mir Hamza first getting opener Mohammad Haris lbw on review and then running out Saim on his follow-through, Kohler-Cadmore began his onslaught in the fifth over when he deposited three successive sixes off Imad.
He would then hit Imran Tahir for two sixes; the second in the 11th over seeing him raise his half-century. The Englishman was taking a liking to Imad and hit him for another six before Babar cut his Kings counterpart for four in the same over to reach his 50.
Babar would then size up Andrew Tye, hitting the Australian for a four, six and four off successive deliveries; the Kings at that point rueing Qasim Akram dropping a difficult chance that led to the first boundary. Babar, however, departed in the next over, caught at long-on by Tye off Tahir. He hit seven boundaries and a six in his 46-ball innings.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa didn’t last long and Neesham (16 not out) was dropped on the first ball he faced. Kohler-Cadmore fell on the fourth ball of the final over, missing out on a maiden century in the PSL with Zalmi falling a run short of posting 200. It proved just enough for a win.
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Mohammad Haris lbw b Hamza 10 5 2 0 200.00
Babar Azam c Tye b Tahir 68 46 7 1 147.82
Saim Ayub run out 1 1 0 0 100.00
Tom Kohler-Cadmore c Tahir b Cutting 92 50 7 6 184.00
Bhanuka Rajapaksa c Cutting b Tye 6 6 0 0 100.00
James Neesham not out 16 11 1 0 145.45
Shakib Al Hasan not out 1 1 0 0 100.00
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-4) 5
TOTAL (for five wickets, 20 overs) 199
DID NOT BAT: Wahab Riaz, Khurram Shahzad, Sufiyan Muqeem, Salman Irshad
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-15 (Haris), 2-16 (Saim), 3-155 (Babar), 4-171 (Rajapaksa), 5-197 (Kohler-Cadmore)
BOWLING: Amir 4-0-42-0 (2w), Hamza 2-0-13-1, Imad 3-0-42-0, Tye 4-0-32-1, Imran 4-0-40-1 (1w), Cutting 3-0-29-1 (1w)
Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR
Matthew Wade c Kohler-Cadmore b Neesham 23 15 3 1 153.33
Sharjeel Khan c Haris b Wahab 0 1 0 0 0.00
Haider Ali c Saim b Salman 12 10 1 0 120.00
Qasim Akram c Kohler-Cadmore b Neesham 7 10 1 0 70.00
Shoaib Malik c Haris b Wahab 52 34 4 2 152.94
Imad Wasim not out 80 47 7 4 170.21 Ben Cutting not out 9 8 1 0 112.50
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, NB-5, W-7) 14
TOTAL (for five wickets, 20 overs) 197
STILL TO BAT: Andrew Tye, Imran Tahir, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Amir
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-1 (Sharjeel), 2-34 (Wade), 3-44 (Qasim), 4-46 (Haider), 5-177 (Malik)
BOWLING: Wahab 4-0-34-2 (1w, 2nb), Khurram 4-0-47-0 (2nb), Neesham 4-0-26-2, Shakib 3-0-32-0 (3w), Salman 4-0-42-1 (2w, 1nb), Sufiyan 1-0-14-0
RESULTS: Peshawar Zalmi won by two runs.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2023