By Jawad Hussain
KARACHI, March 10 (Xinhua) – A brilliant last over by fast bowler Usman Shinwari inspired Karachi Kings to become the last team into the playoffs of the Pakistan Super League 2019 at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday.
Usman Shinwari kept his nerves and showed a great character as he defended five runs in the penultimate over to help Karachi Kings go over the line in the high-scoring nail-biter against Quetta Gladiators.
The victory for Karachi Kings means the end to Lahore Qalandars’ campaign in the PSL-4, a campaign that was full of shoddy decisions and unfortunate injuries. However, in the end, Lahore Qalandards have only themselves to blame for yet another sorry end to their PSL campaign. They came agonizingly close to securing two points on many occasion but couldn’t exhibit the winners’ attitude to achieve the crucial victories. Their inability to execute the plans brought about their downfall.
Quetta Gladiators were in control of the proceedings for the most part of the match against Karachi Kings. At the end of the 19th over, the Gladiators were just five runs away from the victory that could have made the final day of the PSL league matches far more interesting. They had Ahmed Shehzad and Anwar Ali at the crease with the license to use the long handle against the sheer pace of Usman Khan Shinwari, who was belted for 22 runs in his previous over.
However, in bizarre circumstances, the out-of-sort Shinwari looked like a big deal with the ball reversing in the final over. Shinwari derived enough deviation and penetration to get rid of Anwar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed to seal the deal for Karachi Kings by just one run.
After Kings’ victory, the last two matches of the league round have become dead-rubbers. Lahore Qalandars face off against Multan Sultans and Karachi Kings will play Peshawar Zalmi at Karachi’s National Stadium on Monday. The result of these matches will have no impact on the Pakistan Super League 2019 as Quetta Gladiators, Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United and Karachi Kings have already qualified for the PSL-4 Playoffs.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss for the Quetta Gladiators and decided to field first as he backed his batting might to chase down any total on the placid pitch and extremely short boundaries at the National Stadium in Karachi.
Karachi Kings got off to a confident start as Babar Azam (56 runs from 46 balls – 6 fours, 1 six) and Colin Munro (30 runs from 26 balls – 1 four, 2 sixes) scored 69 runs for the opening wicket in just nine overs.
However, two quick wickets of Colin Munro and Liam Livingstone (5 runs from 7 balls) pegged the progress a bit for the Kings, who were restricted to 2/70 after 10 overs. With 180 runs being a par total at the NSK, the first half total for the Kings was not a great one. They needed someone to jack up the run-rate and the push came from the strong middle-order batsmen.
Colin Ingram (24 runs from 10 balls – 1 four, 3 sixes) and Ben Dunk (18 runs from 11 balls – 1 four, 1 six) upped the tempo in the third part of the innings but the lethal punch came from Iftikhar Ahmed (44* runs from 18 balls – 5 fours, 2 sixes) who swung the pendulum towards the Kings’ way.
The Kings amassed 120 runs from the last 12 overs to reach a fighting total of 5/190 from their 20 overs.
Fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain (2/38) was the pick of the bowlers for Quetta Gladiators while Sohail Tanvir (1/46), Mohammad Nawaz (1/35), and Fawad Ahmed (1/32) also chipped in with one wicket each.
The Kings needed to pick up early wickets to put Quetta Gladiators under any kind of pressure. The Gladiators looked at home unless skipper Imad Wasim introduced youngster Umer Khan into the attack. Umer Khan (3/26) changed the course of the match with key wickets of Shane Watson (20 runs from 15 balls – 1 four, 1 six), Riley Rossouw (10 runs from 7 balls – 1 six), and Umar Akmal (27 runs from 20 balls – 3 sixes).
However, Ahmed Shehzad (99 runs from 57 balls – 8 fours, 6 sixes) not only kept one end in-tact but also scored quick runs to keep Quetta Gladiators in control of the situation.
Sarfraz Ahmed decided to keep himself to the lower order and experimented by promoting Dwayne Bravo (9 runs from 15 balls – 1 four) up the order. The decision back-fired big time as Sohail Khan, who was belted for 28 runs from his first two overs gave away only 11 runs in his final two overs. He schooled the West Indian all-rounder like a boss during the spell, which brought Karachi Kings back into contention.
It all came down to the last over where Usman Khan Shinwari had only five runs to play with. He bowled brilliantly and used the reverse swing to his favor. The sudden cut on the ball stunned the batsmen and they failed to find that one elusive scoring shot that could have gotten them over the line.
Usman Shinwari (3/43) was declared Player of the Match whereas Umer Khan (3/26) also bowled amazingly well for the Kings.