Babar Azam, Pakistan captain in all formats, became the top run-getter in the history of Pakistan Super League (PSL) as his team Karachi Kings started their title-defence in style on the opening day of PSL-VI on Saturday.
Chasing a below-par target of 122 for win at the National Stadium in Karachi, the Kings were propped up by England’s Joel Clarke, who scored a breezy 46 off 23 deliveries to set them on course after opener Sharjeel Khan was trapped in front of the wicket for four. Azam, fresh out of their T20 series win against South Africa, scored a 20-ball 24 as opener and overtook Kamran Akmal’s tally of 1537 by three runs.
It was Clarke’s day all the way as he thrashed six fours and three sixes after having grabbed four catches behind the stumps earlier on. Mohammad Nabi, the experienced Afghanistan allrounder, took the Kings over the line with 37 balls to spare as the former Afghanistan captain smashed three sixes off Ben Cutting, including the winning runs, to end up with a 14-ball 30.
Sent into bat, Quetta innings never got going as they folded up for a measly score of 121, with the ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle raking up a 24-ball 39 while none of the other batsmen never got going. The West Indian came in at No.3 instead of his customary slot at the top, but he had to come out as early as the fourth ball of the match after Tom Banton was dismissed by rival skipper Imad Wasim for four.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, opening in a T20 fixture for the first time in more than five years, also failed to get going. The Quetta captain scored just seven before edging a simple catch to wicket-keeper Clarke off seamer Aamir Yamin.
Saim Ayub marked his T20 debut on a rather poor note as the 18-year-old left-hander perished for eight when his attempt to clear the square-leg boundary failed with Aamir Yamin taking a smart catch.
Gayle began to middle the ball well before Dan Christian ended his innings with a subtle change of pace that saw him slice the ball straight to point where Mohammad Amir made no mistake. The departure of Gayle, who hit four fours and two sixes, triggered Quetta’s downfall as four wickets fell for 36 runs.
The turnout for the opening fixture was somewhat disappointing with around 2,000 spectators in attendance despite the official announcement that 7,500 were allowed per match.
Brief Scores: Quetta Gladiators 121 all out in 18.2 overs (C.Gayle 39; A.Iqbal 2/21, W. Maqsood 2/21) vs Karachi Kings 126/3 in 13.5 overs (J.Clarke 46, B.Azam 24, M.Nabi 30). Karachi Kings won by seven wickets.