A stunning 151-run opening stand between Sharjeel Khan and Babar Azam orchestrated a commanding 10-wicket win for Karachi Kings over arch-rivals Lahore Qalandars at Karachi’s National Stadium on Thursday.
With what was the highest opening partnership of the HBL PSL 2020, Kings avenged their last Sunday’s eight-wicket defeat against Qalandars at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
Sharjeel, named man of the match, smashed a sizzling 74 not out from 59 balls, studded with five fours and five sixes, while Babar’s brilliant unbeaten 46-ball 69 was embellished with eight fours and a six as Kings surmounted the target with 17 balls spare.
The momentum for the run-chase was set in the second and third overs – as they brought Kings 25 runs – after Shaheen Afridi allowed only a run in the innings opener.
Sharjeel smashed Samit Patel for two fours in the second over and the home side’s position was consolidated by Babar, the world number one T20I batsman, as his sumptuous wristwork brought three boundaries off Shaheen’s bowling in the next over.
Problems compounded for Qalandars in the last Powerplay over as Sharjeel’s two catches were put down by wicketkeeper Ben Dunk and Mohammad Farzan Raja at deep square-leg boundary.
From that juncture, the opening pair dominated the proceedings by artfully rotating the strike and hitting boundaries all around the dial.
There were fireworks in the 13th over as Sharjeel and Babar struck Shaheen for a six and a four, respectively, in an over which costed the bowling side 17 runs and brought Kings a step closer to the victory.
However, it was the 17th over which turned out to be the most expensive one for Qalandars as David Wiese was smashed for maximums by Sharjeel and Babar on the first and third ball.
Earlier, Qalandars captain Sohail Akhtar stroked an attractive half-century after Kings’ captain Imad Wasim elected to field.
Sohail, who opened the innings with Fakhar Zaman (17 off 13), top-scored for his side with a 49-ball 68. The right-handed batsman hit eight fours and two sixes and provided his team the desired start by anchoring a 49-run opening stand, which came to an end on the last ball of the Powerplay when Fakhar played-on Umaid Asif (4-0-34-2).
Kings’ pacer Arshad Iqbal put a dent in Qalandars’ innings by removing Chris Lynn (five off five) in the ninth over and the pressure amplified on Qalandars with the fall of Ben Dunk, their highest run-getter this season, in the 13th over.
Arshad continued to impress with his crafty variations and dismissed an in-form Sohail, who had scored his second fifty in three matches, by trapping him LBW 11 balls later. The scorecard at that point read 108 for four in 14.1 overs.
Arshad, the right-arm medium-fast bowler who was Kings’ emerging pick, returned two for 15 in three overs.
That Qalandars’ bowlers had something to bowl at was due to veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who hit three fours and a six in his unbeaten 22-ball 35.
Karachi Kings, who now have four wins from eight matches, have jumped to the second spot on the points table from the fifth position on the back of the comprehensive win.
Lahore Qalandars slip to fourth and have only one match left which they play on Sunday against Multan Sultans in Lahore.
On Friday, Quetta Gladiators, placed at the bottom of the table, will play their last group-match against top-ranked Multan Sultans at the National Stadium.