KARACHI: Multan Sultans batter Usman Khan hits out during his century in the HBL Pakistan Super League match against Karachi Kings at the National Stadium on Sunday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star
KARACHI: Multan Sultans batter Usman Khan hits out during his century in the HBL Pakistan Super League match against Karachi Kings at the National Stadium on Sunday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star

KARACHI: On a crisp, cold night here at the National Bank Stadium on Sunday, the crowds had come in decent numbers and the upbeat, weekend mood was audible with their continuous chanting.

It wasn’t a player from home team Karachi Kings who displayed the fireworks though. It was Multan Sultans batter Usman Khan.

Dejected by the state of affairs in Pakistan, Usman had moved to the United Arab Emirates a few years ago, and recently became eligible to play for the emirate’s national side. Bludgeoning the Karachi bowlers for his second HBL Pakistan Super League century, Usman reminded what Pakistan missed out on as he took the Sultans to a 20-run victory and into the playoffs.

Usman’s onslaught left Karachi’s fate hanging as the team stuck outside of the play-off places in the franchise league’s standings. Multan, meanwhile, consolidated their position at the top of the table.

After Multan had elected to bat first, it was all about Usman’s dynamism with the bat. Coming in at first drop, Usman smashed an unbeaten 106 off 59 — a knock featuring 10 fours and five sixes — almost single handedly boosting Multan to 189-3.

The right-hander arri­v­ed at the crease after Multan had lost opener Reeza Hendricks early and took the attack on the Karachi bowlers while his captain Rizwan related the strike on the other end.

After Hendricks’ upper cut off Blessing Muzar­abani had ended up into the hands of Mir Hamza at deep third man in the second over, a cut-shot masterclass by Usman took Multan past 50 on the final ball of the powerplay.

The right-hander slashed Hasan Ali and Muzara­bani’s pace through the square region on more than one occasion and was equally good against Mohammad Nawaz’s spin.

Usman went big for the first time in his knock when he danced down the ground to lift Nawaz over extra-cover for a handsome six before Rizwan played an inside-out drive to add four more as Multan reached 87-1 at halfway stage.

Usman brought up his half century in 32 balls after cutting Hasan for another boundary in the 12th over.

He punished a half-tracker by Shoaib Malik in the next over for a huge six over deep midwicket before Rizwan lifted Muzarabani over mid-on for four more to bring up the 100-run partnership between the pair.

Usman hit spinner Zahid Mahmood high and long in the stands and added a four to his knock in the 15th over.

Rizwan (58 off 44) crossed the 50-run mark on 40 balls after hitting Hasan for two fours in the next over before giving his wicket to Muzarabani.

Iftikhar Ahmed received a rousing welcome as Chacha, Chacha echoed from the stands. But to the spectators’ disappointment, he holed Hasan out to Shan at deep midwicket.

Usman brought up his 100 with a pull for six against Hamza in the final over, jumping in the air to celebrate as the crowd roared for him.

Karachi lost opener Tim Seifert early on with the New Zealander run out in the second over and they found themselves deeper in trouble when Chris Jordan — playing his first match this season — found a genuine nick off James Vince’s bat.

But the incoming Malik and Kings’ skipper Shan Masood — who had hit five fours by then — took the team to 53-2 by the end of the powerplay.

Usama Mir missed out on the opportunity to run Shan out following a confusion between him and Malik in the seventh over.

The leg-spinner, however, bounced back by cleaning up Shan in the ninth over as the left-hander attempted a big slog-sweep before Karachi posted 79-3 at halfway stage.

Malik became Khushdil Shah’s victim as the veteran holed the spinner out to Jordan at long-on.

Usama wrapped up his four overs with Leus du Plooy’s wicket in the 13th over as the left-hander found Rizwan at cover before Karachi brought up their 100.

Irfan Khan Niazi smashed chinaman bowler Faisal Akram through the off-side for two boundaries before bludgeoning the left-armer for a flat six over midwicket in the 14th over.

Pacer David Willey gave away only three runs in the next over with Karachi needing 71 off 30 and their main batters back in the hut.

And when Willey went on to dismiss Irfan in the 17th over, it was effectively all over for Karachi. There were a few lusty blows by Mohammad Nawaz and Hasan Ali after Irfan’s departure, but the duo’s efforts were for nothing but damage control.

SCOREBOARD

MULTAN SULTANS:

Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Mohammad Rizwan c Shan b Muzarabani 58 44 5 0 131.81

Reeza Hendricks c Hamza b Muzarabani 13 8 3 0 162.50

Usman Khan not out 106 59 10 5 179.66

Iftikhar Ahmed c Irfan b Hasan 4 4 0 0 100.00

Khushdil Shah not out 6 5 0 0 120.00

EXTRAS (LB-1, W-1) 2

TOTAL (for three wickets, 20 overs) 189

DID NOT BAT: Tayyab Tahir, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Usama Mir, Mohammad Ali, Faisal Akram

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-16 (Hendricks), 2-164 (Rizwan), 3-171 (Iftikhar)

BOWLING: Hamza 4-0-43-0, Muzarabani 4-0-32-2, Nawaz 3-0-37-0 (1w), Hasan 4-0-34-1, Zahid 4-0-34-0, Malik 1-0-8-0

KARACHI KINGS:

Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Shan Masood b Usama 36 29 5 0 124.13

Tim Seifert run out (Willey) 1 4 0 0 25.00

James Vince c Usman b Jordan 7 4 1 0 175.00

Shoaib Malik c Jordan b Khushdil 38 28 5 0 135.71

Leus du Plooy c Rizwan b Usama 12 11 0 0 109.09

Irfan Khan c Usman b Willey 23 19 2 1 121.05

Mohammad Nawaz not out 27 17 3 1 158.82

Hasan Ali c Tayyab b Ali 17 8 1 1 212.50

Mir Hamza not out 4 1 1 0 400.00 EXTRAS (LB-2, NB-1, W-1) 4

TOTAL (for seven wickets, 20 overs) 169

DID NOT BAT: Zahid Mahmood, Blessing Muzarabani

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-6 (Seifert), 2-28 (Vince), 3-75 (Shan), 4-89 (Malik), 5-99 (du Plooy), 6-124 (Irfan), 7-165 (Hasan)

BOWLING: Willey 4-0-32-1, Ali 4-0-40-1 (1nb), Jordan 4-0-34-1 (1w), Usama 4-0-29-2, Khushdil 3-0-16-1, Faisal 1-0-16-0

RESULT: Multan Sultans won by 20 runs.

PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Usman Khan

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2024

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