Imad Wasim’s all-round show against Lahore lights up Karachi’s prospects

Published February 19, 2023
Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim in action against Lahore Qalandars, Karachi on Sunday. — Pakistan Super League Twitter
Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim in action against Lahore Qalandars, Karachi on Sunday. — Pakistan Super League Twitter

The capacity crowd at Karachi’s National Stadium was flashing their mobile phone torches from the stands towards the playing field. The lights seemed to blind the Lahore Qalandars’ batters, who fell one after the other, getting close to an eventual 67-run defeat on Sunday.

For hosts Karachi Kings, the lights seemed to be those that would illuminate their prospects at the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL), which had looked dark ahead of the box office fixture.

The Kings’ captain Imad Wasim was the central figure in the side’s maiden victory in the league’s eighth season after three losses creating an embarrassing situation for the all-rounder, who had been taking pride in his side replacing former skipper Babar Azam with “match-winners”.

After being bashed on social media for comments apparently directed at Pakistan’s most popular sports figure, Wasim spoke with his bat, smashing an unbeaten 35 off 19 to power his team to 185-5 before cramping the Lahore batters for runs and forcing a stumping against Hussain Talat to effectively wrap up Lahore’s innings.

All the promise that Lahore showed was only at the start of their chase, with opener Tahir Baig threatening to take it away from Karachi early, when he lifted Akif Javed — who was playing his first match for the franchise — for 17 runs in the second over, which saw the right-hander lift Javed for two sixes off his hips.

But once Aamer Yamin castled Baig’s partner Fakhar Zaman in the fifth over, Lahore never truly showed any signs of recovery. First drop Shai Hope followed Zaman in the next over, thanks to a flying effort by Irfan Niazi at point to give Mohammad Amir his first wicket as the scoreboard read 47-2 by the end of the powerplay.

Baig and Kamran Ghulam tried to rebuild the innings for Lahore, but Wasim’s nagging line and length and that of leg-spinner Imran Tahir kept the duo at bay and their run-a-ball partnership for 41 runs, when Baig (45 off 39) skied Javed for wicket-keeper Matthew Wade to take an easy catch two balls before the bowler got Kamran.

After Wasim undid Talat in the 14th, Aamer Jamal sent back David Wiese before Ben Cutting got Sikandar Raza and Lahore captain Shaheen Shah Afridi on consecutive deliveries in the 17th over.

Javed wrapped up proceedings with two lower-order wickets in the next over to register figures of 4-28 in 3.3 overs.

Karachi’s decision to drop opener Sharjeel Khan and replace him with Wade at the top of the order proved just right as the Australian put up a brilliant partnership with James Vince to give the hosts a blistering start — something they hadn’t gotten in the first three matches.

The duo had powered Karachi to 61-0 in the powerplay thanks to industrious running between the wickets and intelligent shot selection. Against the attacking pace pair of Afridi and Zaman Khan, Vince and Wade waited for the right ball to play their shots — one of which was an exquisite straight drive by Vince off Afridi in the second over.

Wade, who was playing against Afridi for the first time since he bludgeoned the bowler for three sixes to help Australia eliminate Pakistan in the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final, stayed careful against the pacer this time.

Both openers turned it up against David Wiese’s medium pace in the fifth over, hitting a six each before Wade paddled and pulled Haris Rauf for two boundaries. The partnership of 70 off 43 balls came to an anticlimactic end when Wade (36 off 24) was run out in an attempt to steal a double off Liam Dawson.

Vince kept going but his partners on the other end in Haider Ali and Shoaib Malik fell early after showing promise. Ali’s problems with temperament continued as the mercurial right-hander was cleaned up by Dawson after smashing a boundary and a six for 19 off 16 before Malik was undone by a rising bouncer by Rauf to get caught behind cheaply.

Vince (46 off 36) had his time at the crease cut short by Zaman’s yorker that crashed into his stumps in the 14th over, leaving Karachi under pressure at 124-4, with two new batters in Wasim and Cutting in the middle.

What followed was a crucial counter-attacking cameo by the duo — a 52-run partnership off 35 balls for the sixth wicket to drive Karachi to a solid total. The collaboration saw the batters hit some swashbuckling sixes against Afridi and Rauf.

The first of those came from the Karachi skipper’s bat against Rauf as the ball travelled the distance down the ground. He hit a similar shot for another maximum against Afridi before Cutting bludgeoned Wasim’s Lahore counterpart for a towering six over square leg.

After Cutting (20 off 19) had finished an otherwise quiet penultimate over with a four off Rauf, Afridi returned to avenge the Australian with a fiery yorker that destroyed his stumps before Wasim finished the innings with another four.

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