Karachi Kings 190 for 5 (Babar 56, Iftikhar 44*) beat Quetta Gladiators 189 for 7 (Shehzad 99, Umer 3-26, Shinwari 3-43) by one run
How the game played out
This was a match Quetta Gladiators appeared to have won so many times you could swear they’d have four points rather than the usual two added to their already burgeoning tally. Instead, in the frenzy of a final over that saw three wickets, three runs, a dismissal on 99 and Usman Shinwari making amends, they would end up with none, a raucous Karachi crowd roaring their side over the line, seemingly flying in the face of reason. Ahmed Shehzad was dismissed one short, and until then seemed destined to be the hero of the day. On a day when Shane Watson fell short, Shehzad guided Quetta to within an inch of the finish line, but where he stumbled, the whole house of cards came crashing down.
Karachi had been put in to bat in front of their own fans for the first time in PSL history, and Babar Azam and Colin Munro set up an excellent platform from which Imad Wasim’s side could dominate the game. Babar Azam reached his 99th T20 score above 30, and soon after crossed 50, already the young leader of the batting attack. Ingram was good for a few fireworks in the middle overs, launching Mohammad Nawaz for consecutive sixes to spoil otherwise respectable figures, and the fireworks of Iftikhar Ahmed at the end allowed Karachi to end up with 190, a total that even expert chasers like Quetta would be stretched to overhaul.
The chase had seesawed on a number of occasions, with excellent spells from both left-armers Imad Wasim and Umer Khan edging the asking rate up. But with Shehzad, buoyed by a missed stumping chance by an ordinary Ben Dunk, at the crease and in fine fettle, Quetta always gave off the sense they were in command. Umer’s wickets were the only thing reigning them back in, and when Shinwari leaked 22 in his third over, it looked as if Karachi would have to try again to qualify. Then a mad final over followed where Shehzad was brilliantly caught by Colin Ingram at mid-off, and two further wickets fell. The man who had conceded 22 an over ago had somehow defended four to win the game.
Quetta looked like they had stalled Karachi’s momentum once they lost their fifth wicket in the 19th over. Karachi had by then accumulated 156, which, on this wicket, meant they would probably end up well below par. But a splendid 18-ball 44 from Iftikhar Ahmed saw the home side plunder 34 runs from their last 11 balls, and a couple of hours later, they needed every single one of them.
Star of the day
The final accolades may belong to Shinwari, but if ever a player deserved an uninterrupted moment in the spotlight the losing side of a contest, it was bashful 19-year old Umer Khan. The uncapped left-arm spinner has, alongside Fawad Ahmed, arguably been the best slow bowler in the entire competition. He was responsible for all of the first four Quetta wickets, three of them credited to his account, the fourth a runout thanks to a flawless throw from him at the boundary. He beat Watson in the flight to get him cheaply, had Rossouw stumped after he saw the batsman charging, and dragged Umar Akmal wide outside off stump to have him hole out. Every miniscule contribution would count in the end.
The big miss
Quetta have historically been hampered by the absence of international stars in their midst once the tournament moves to Pakistan. Last year, after they were knocked out in the playoffs, coach Moin Khan bitterly lamented Shane Watson’s decision not to come to Pakistan. So when, for the first time, the Australian announced he would accompany Quetta back to Karachi, it appeared he may be the difference maker. He got off to a brisk start today, and the signs looked ominous for Karachi. But then, that man Umer struck for the first time of many this evening, coaxing Watson into a loft over cow corner. Watson was reaching for it, and even on these short boundaries, failed to get the elevation required to clear Mohammad Rizwan at the boundary. He had whet the appetite of the Karachi crowd with 19 off 15, but would not be serving the main course for a change.
Where the teams stand
Karachi’s win means the race to the playoffs is over, with Karachi sealing the last qualification spot. Lahore Qalandars join Multan Sultans out of contention.
Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1177532.html?CMP=OTC-RSS