Belligerent Pollard steers Karachi Kings to first victory

Published February 22, 2024
KARACHI Kings batter Kieron Pollard plays a shot during the match against Peshawar Zalmi at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.—M. Arif/White Star
KARACHI Kings batter Kieron Pollard plays a shot during the match against Peshawar Zalmi at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.—M. Arif/White Star

LAHORE: An aggressive knock of 49 by former West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard steered Karachi Kings to their first victory of the HBL Pakistan Super League as they crushed Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

It is the second consecutive defeat of Zalmi who are yet to earn points in this PSL edition.

Right-handed Pollard smashed four powerful sixes in his innings — all to Afghanistan’s left-arm wrist spinner Waqar Salamkheil who conceded 27 runs in the 15th over as Kings comfortably overhauled the target of 155 in just 16.5 overs for the loss of three wickets.

While Pollard entertained a sizeable crowd with his typical attacking game, James Vince (38 not out off 30) played a silent yet crucial role in the facile victory.

Pollard was involved in two important partnerships. First, he partnered with Shoaib Malik (29 off 29) to add 51 for the third wicket when Kings had been reduced to 40-2 in the fifth over losing captain Shan Masood (12) and Mohammad Akhlaq (24 off 13). Then Pollard played the primary role in a 66-run undefeated stand with Vince for the fourth wicket.

The big West Indian all-rounder — who on the very first ball he faced lifted Waqar for a six — was particularly brutal in the 15th over smashing a four off the first ball from the bowler, then sent him over long-off for a six, and then a four followed by back-to-back sixes to plunder 27 runs.

After some cautious start, Vince and Shoaib developed their partnership as the veteran Pakistan all-rounder smashed a six in the ninth over off Aamer Jamal. In the next over, Vince lifted Waqar for a six and then for a four. Waqar, however, came back to clean up Shoaib which was the bowler’s lone success.

Vince alongside Pollard, however, completed the task without any further loss.

Vince crafted an unbeaten 38 off 30 balls with three fours and one six.

England fast bowler Luke Wood took two wickets for 20 runs while Waqar conceded 54 off his four overs.

“It was a fresh pitch. The first over [of the innings] was two-paced but then it was normal and the track became batting-friendly,” Babar told reporters after the match.

“We could not score a big total. After losing three wickets in the powerplay we tried to come back but Powell was dismissed at the wrong time. The situation would have been different had Powell stayed,” Babar said after the match.

Later Zalmi’s coach Darren Sammy also acknowledged that his team should have posted 170-180.

“So far, our batting has not clicked; we lost three wickets in the powerplay, and our middle-order also failed,” the former West Indies captain said.

King’s pacer Hasan Ali, who took three wickets said he was quite satisfied with his performance.

Earlier after being asked to bat first, Zalmi failed to get a challenging total and were dismissed with one ball to spare despite a grinding half-century from captain Babar Azam. Playing some delightful strokes, Babar cracked a 51-ball 72 — his second consecutive fifty of PSL 9 — studded with seven fours and one six.

Babar looked aggressive against Nawaz cracking him three fours in the third over and then showed his class against Australian pacer Daniel Sams hitting him for two boundaries in the fifth over. Babar’s six came against South African left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi over long-on as he completed his 50 off 37 balls.

Off-spinner Malik bowled young opener Saim Ayub for a first-ball duck in the very first over of the innings while out-of-form wicket-keeper/batter Mohammad Haris (six) tried to lift Mir Hamza over the long-off area but in doing so only gave a simple catch to Pollard at long-off. Then Tom Kohler-Cadmore (two) was cleaned up by pacer Hasan Ali.

As Zalmi struggled at 40-3 in the sixth over, Babar along with Rovman Powell (39 off 25) tried to resurrect the innings adding a crucial 68 off 48 balls.

After Powell’s departure at 108 in the 13th over, Zalmi were eyeing a strong show from Asif Ali but his 16-ball 23 was ended by Australian pacer Daniel Sams as the power-hitter was caught by Pollard at long-on and it was 136-4.

The pace trio of Hamza (3-28), Hasan (3-30) and Sams (2-28) were among the wickets.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2024

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