Karachi Kings’ Babar Azam in action during their PSL match against Multan Sultans at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Karachi Kings conquered Multan Sultans by seven runs in the second match of the HBL Pakistan Super League at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.

Electing to bat first, Karachi openers Liam Livingstone and Babar Azam recorded the highest opening partnership in PSL history of 157 runs in 15.4 overs beating the mark set by Shane Watson and Sharjeel Khan (153) for Islamabad United against Lahore Qalandars in Sharjah in the 2016 edition.

Twenty-five-year-old Livingstone hit 82 runs off 43 balls with six boundaries and six sixes. Azam’s 77 runs off 59 balls contained six boundaries and one six.

Multan bowled well towards the end and in the last four overs took five wickets for 23 runs to restrict Karachi to 183-6.

Chasing the score, Multan skipper Shoaib Malek cracked 52 off 28 balls with five boundaries and two sixes while Laurie Evans chipped in with 49 runs. Their 72-run partnership in 6.3 overs took them closer to the target but left-pacer Mohammad Amir through a fine spell of 4-25 ensured the victory. He was backed by Sohail Khan who claimed two wickets.

The action began with Azam, who is the top ranked player in the ICC ODI ranking, hitting his first boundary by cracking Mohammad Irfan through the left of backward point. In the third over, Livingstone played a fine shot to the midwicket to get his first boundary too. None expected the pair to settle down quickly and thrash the attack. In the fourth over, Livingstone went on to his knees and slog swept Chirs Green for a six over square leg. Azam soon began to pick the gaps and hit Junaid Khan for two successive boundaries in the fifth over.

The opening pair’s 50 partnership came in the 5.5 overs. The crowd cheered for Shahid Afridi, who bowled the seventh over, but Babar and Livingstone scored a boundary each off him. Livingstone was severe on Andre Russell too in the eighth over, taking two boundaries off him and by the 11th over the pair had passed 100 runs. Livingstone stepped out to hit Afridi for a boundary and also hit him over the sightscreen for a six and reached his half century in 29 balls. Azam too reached his half century in 39 balls.

The opening pair went on to put 157 runs in 15.4 overs. Green ended Livingstone’s breezy knock when he got caught by Russell at wide long on while attempting another six. Next man Colin Ingram lasted only two balls as he swung at a delivery from Russell to Shan Masood for 1. In the 18th over, Azam fell for 77 runs offering Masood his second catch. Skipper Imad Wasim followed the next ball, holing out to Mohammad Ilyas at long on for 4. These wickets stopped Karachi from going past the 200 run mark.

Chasing the target, Multan lost an early wicket in the second over when opener Tom Moores, going for a flick off Mohammad Amir, landed up being caught by an athletic Ingram at extra cover for 1. Masood, after scoring 20 off 20 balls and putting on 47 runs for the second wicket with Laurie Evans, hit Umer Khan to Amir at midwicket. It was the 19-year-old slow left arm spinners’s maiden T20 wicket. At the halfway mark Multan were 59 for 2 needing another 125 runs from the last ten.

Malek, who joined Evans began to open out. He hit Sohail Khan for a six in the 13th over, and then thrashed Ravi Bopara for four consecutive boundaries and a six. He raced past Evans to reach his half century in just 24 balls. Evans got run out for 49. Russell walked in with Multan needing 60 runs in the last five overs. He lasted five balls to score nine runs before edging Amir to wicketkeeper. Malek too followed pulling Usman Shinwari to Sikandar Raza to end Multan’s challenge.

Brief scores

Karachi Kings 183-6 (20 overs): Liam Livingstone 82, Babar Azam 77; Chris Green 3-32

Multan Sultans 176-9 (20 overs): Shan Masood 20, Laurie Evans 49, Shoaib Malek 52; Mohammad Amir 4-25