Karachi Kings are 16-1 after 2 overs in pursuit of their 171-run target set by Peshawar Zalmi in the last Eliminator match of the Pakistan Super League 2018 at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
With a mammoth total to chase, the Kings started off brightly as Joe Denly hit a trio of 4s in the opening over bowled by Hasan Ali.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was also in attendance. Here he is seated alongside PCB Chairman Najam Sethi:
Peshawar Zalmi innings
The match’s start was delayed for more than an hour due to a wet outfield. But the ground staff worked diligently to make sure the play was possible. The delay, however, meant that the all-important encounter was reduced to 16 overs per side.
When the match finally began, Kamran Akmal and Andre Fletcher opening the innings for the defending champions, whereas Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari shared the new ball for the port city side.
The opening over was quiet before Akmal livened things up in the second, hitting a 6 and a 4 off of Shinwari.
It was Fletcher’s turn to do the same in the 4th over, although his 6 was a mishit and could’ve landed anywhere.
In the 5th over, Akmal against demonstrated to his West Indian partner how to hit clean 6s.
He plundered Shinwari for 25 runs in that over, taking his side to 54-0. Zalmi were officially off to a flying start.
Fletcher showed he was a quick learner, hitting three boundaries in Ravi Bopara’s first and the innings’ sixth over.
With nothing working, Amir tossed the ball to leg-spinner Usama Mir, hoping for a Mir-acle. It didn’t work; Akmal smacked three more boundaries, bringing up the fastest half-century ever scored in PSL history. It took him just 17 balls this time.
Akmal, who has found an extra couple of gears in PSL 2018, smacked two more in Danish Aziz’s first and innings’ 9th.
Halfway through their innings, Zalmi were 120-2, with Mohammad Hafeez and Liam Dawson in the middle who by the way, had hit a 6 the first ball he faced.
With just 6 overs left to play, Zalmi batters were taking added risk.
It paid off sometimes:
At this point, Zalmi had lost three wickets — all picked up by Bopara.
Shinwari had been decent in death overs in PSL 2018 with his yorkers. He targeted Darren Sammy’s legs on the opening ball of 14th over, making it clear what his strategy was going to be.
After missing the opening ball, Sammy found a way, digging Shinwari’s full-length ball and sending it over cow corner.
Zalmi’s 150 was up in that same over before Dawson fell prey to Shinwari.
Captain Amir was one of the few Karachi bowlers who had bowled well on the night. He had been stingy in the 13th and again gave away just 6 runs in the 15th, finishing with figures of 4-0-16-0.
Three wickets fell in the final over bowled by Saad Nasim but Zalmi managed to scored 11 off it, finishing with 170-7 in their allotted 16 overs.
Road to Eliminator 2
The Kings already spurned a chance to directly qualify for the final after losing to Islamabad United in a lop-sided qualifier last weekend.
Comment: Karachi Kings — the PSL franchise hated by many of its own
Zalmi, meanwhile, survived by the skin of their teeth last night, defeating Quetta Gladiators by just one run in the first Eliminator.
Pacer Mohammad Amir led the Kings as Imad Wasim and Shahid Afridi were both out injured and Eoin Morgan didn’t travel to Pakistan.
The Kings drafted in Mukhtar Ahmed, Zulfiqar Babar and Danish Aziz into their squads as covers for the missing.
Karachi Kings: Denly, Mukhtar, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram, Bopara, Rizwan, Mir, Usman Shinwari, Mills, Amir, Aziz
Peshawar Zalmi: Kamran (wk), Fletcher, Hafeez, Nasim, Sammy (capt), Dawson, Jordan, Asif, Wahab, Hasan Ali, Sameen Gul