HBL PSL: Abbas holds nerve as Sultans clinch last-ball thriller against Kings

Published February 23, 2023
MULTAN Sultans’ captain Mohammad Rizwan hits out during the HBL Pakistan Super League match against Karachi Kings at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—APP
MULTAN Sultans’ captain Mohammad Rizwan hits out during the HBL Pakistan Super League match against Karachi Kings at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—APP
Karachi Kings’ Shoaib Malik (R) plays a shot as Multan Sultans’ catapin wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan watches during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) T20 cricket match between Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan on February 22, 2023. — AFP
Karachi Kings’ Shoaib Malik (R) plays a shot as Multan Sultans’ catapin wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan watches during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) T20 cricket match between Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan on February 22, 2023. — AFP

MULTAN: It shouldn’t have, but it had come down to the wire. Karachi Kings should have run away with the match after the swashbuckling start James Vince had given them, but here they were at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Wednesday, needing 40 off the last 12 balls to reach the 197-run target against Multan Sultans in their HBL Pakistan Super League match.

Sultans captain Mohammad Rizwan — who had scored 110 runs of their total earlier — would have preferred to toss the ball to their in-form bowler Ihsanullah at that moment, but with the pacer’s overs already exhausted, he had to make do with Mohammad Ilyas and Abbas Afridi.

The pressure was immense and it clearly got the better of Ilyas, who went first. After dropping Rizwan’s counterpart Imad Wasim on the first ball, Ilyas conceded two wides before getting smacked by the Kings captain over long-on and long-off for two sixes.

It was Abbas’ turn now. The baby face of the lean medium pacer could tell he was not enjoying being on the spot. And with his first ball — a head height full toss to Imad — dispatched over midwicket for six, it was proven. The next delivery was in Imad’s slot again but to Abbas’ relief, all the left-hander could manage from it was a single before he bowled another wide.

With Ben Cutting on strike now, Abbas bowled another wide outside off stump and was bludgeoned high and long by the Australian for another six. The right-armer, however, gathered himself, ran in and finally executed what he was looking to since the start of the over — a perfect slower one. Next ball, Cutting miscued an attempted big hit and found Kieron Pollard at long-off with the big Trinidadian triggering celebrations at the jam-packed venue, which saw the home side take the game by three runs as Abbas held his nerve to concede no more boundaries.

Imad stood on the other end dejected. His effort of 46 off 26 balls had gone in vain as the Kings went down to their fourth defeat in five games.

The all-rounder had lifted his side out of danger to a position of going for the match with a 29-ball partnership of 30 balls with Shoaib Malik after Vince’s run out following the opener’s blistering 75 off 34 balls had brought them under pressure.

The Englishman was running away with it as the helpless Sultans looked on. How it ended for Vince — after he had plundered the Multan bowlers all around the ground for seven fours and six sixes — was awful at the least.

With Karachi cruising at 105-1, Vince pushed towards the offside set-off for a single, only to see his partner Haider Ali send him back. But Vince was halfway down the track. Stranded, the right-hander saw wicket-keeper Rizwan dislodge the bails on the striker’s end.

Vince and his opening partner Matthew Wade got the Kings’ chase off to a swashbuckling start. In the second over, Wade played his signature scoop over fine leg against Carlos Brathwaite for the visitors’ first six before hitting two more fours.

 KARACHI Kings’ opener James Vince walks back after being run out during the match against Multan Sultans on Wednesday.—APP
KARACHI Kings’ opener James Vince walks back after being run out during the match against Multan Sultans on Wednesday.—APP

Vince plundered Ilyas for 16 runs to start with and kept hitting big. He launched Abbas for a 106-metre six in the sixth over, bringing up his fifty in just 20 balls as the Kings posted 72-0 by the end of the powerplay.

After Usama Mir trapped Wade lbw in the next over, Vince took on the leg-spinner for sixes in over midwicket and straight down the ground in the ninth before getting run out in the next over.

Khushdil Shah, who had slowed down the run rate with his left-arm spin, got Haider soon after before Imad and Malik took it deep. The partnership saw Imad hit two sixes before Malik fell to Abbas. What followed was a thrilling finish.

Put in to bat earlier, Multan’s intent was clear from the word go. They wanted to put Karachi on the back foot early on. But instead of Rizwan, who is the usual aggressor in the powerplay, it was his opener Shan Masood who did that job.

The left-hander, who has had a difficult start to the season, smashed 51 off 33, hitting six fours and a six before Rizwan almost single-handedly plundered the Karachi attack.

Shan truly got into the act in the third over, in which he thrashed medium pacer Aamer Yamin for three consecutive boundaries — straight down the ground, past fine leg and then through extra cover.

After a disciplined bowling show by Karachi had restricted Multan to 50-0 by the end of the powerplay, Shan took on Imad’s left-arm spin for a six and four in the next over. But as the introduction of spinners Imran Tahir and Malik slowed Multan down, he faltered against the latter after having brought up his 50 off 31 balls.

Imran and Malik kept ruling the roost in the middle overs, while Rizwan — who had stolen five boundaries earlier — brought up his 50 on 42 balls in the 14th over. Rizwan’s remaining 60 runs came in just 22 balls.

His late onslaught started with paddles for two consecutive fours in the next over before he dispatched pacer Mohammad Umar for another boundary and six over square leg.

Rilee Rossouw at the other end opened his boundary account with one against Aamer before Rizwan got two more off the bowler through the offside.

The Pakistan Test vice-captain smashed two sixes off left-arm pacer Akif Javed in the penultimate over — shuffling across the stumps to clear square leg again before lifting over the bowler’s head for another — before taking a quick double to reach his 100 in 60 balls.

Rizwan hit another massive six in the final over before Rossouw took Multan to a formidable target with another boundary.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2023

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