It was a case of better planning prevailing over confusion. Karachi Kings planned things well and had the better of a formidable but sloppy Lahore Qalandars, the end result being a seven-wicket win.
The electrifying atmosphere in the Dubai stadium, with a galaxy of Pakistani drama artists and vibrant crowd, was further lifted by Pakistan Super league’s first hat-trick by none other than the talented Mohammad Amir.
Ever since Amir has served his ban he has been the toast of Pakistan cricket in general and world cricket in particular. The 23-year-old lad has changed negative views with his performances, first on the tour of New Zealand and then in this KK’s first match of the PSL.
Karachi’s ploy to get rid of basher Chris Gayle worked to perfection. It needed an off-spinner to dismantle the big West Indian, so dominant at the crease. Shoaib Malik took the responsibility upon himself and after a couple and a boundary his fourth ball saw Gayle perished.
The stand with Lahore Qalandar’s fans was left shocked while the predominant blue and yellow Karachi Kings jersey section reverberated. If it was Malik leading the team on the field, it was ARY chief executive Salman Iqnbal leading the KK gang in the ARY stand. He had wished to see Gayle’s departure in the first over and his wish came true.
He was seen doing high five with his family members and showbiz starts like Adnan Siddiqui, Faisal Qureshi, Ayesha Umar, Javed Shaikh etc.
Once Gayle departed, Lahore Qalandar had to rebuild their innings but attack after attack and with wise bowling changes by Malik, they were left unsettled. Sohaib Maqsood made a laborious 22 and Cameron Delport 17 and Azhar Ali 18.
Then Amir came into his own, taking a dangerous Dwayne Bravo off the second ball of the 19th over, Zohaib Khan off the next and completed hat trick by trapping Kevon Cooper leg before off the fourth, registering the first hat-trick of the PSL.
Amir finished with 3-27 in a brilliant spell of fast bowling as Lahore’s strong batting line-up was restricted to 125-8 in their 20 overs on a spin-friendly Dubai stadium pitch.
That forced the half-filled Dubai stadium in frenzy as they chanted Amir, the hero and New Zealand’s opener Martin Guptill’s recent words echoed in minds.
“Amir is different and superior from other Pakistan bowlers and there is no doubt that he is world class,” Guptill had said after the one-day series last week.
It was a sort of damp squib for the 17,000 crowd who had come in anticipation of a high scoring, boundary and sixes filled encounter between the two strong teams in the inaugural PSL.
Opener Lendl Simmons (46-ball 62 not out) and Shakib Al Hasan (51) bulldozed the Lahore bowling after Karachi Kings were struggling at 6-2. Skipper Shoaib Malik hit Cameron Delport two sixes to seal the match in 15.5 overs.
Karachi Kings were also jolted right at the outset, losing opener Nauman Anwar off the fourth ball of the innings and the fast-rising James Vince (three) in the second over. Vince was clearly upset with the leg-before decision as he had edged onto the pads but was shocked to see Pakistani umpire Rashid Riaz raising his finger.
Lahore could have Shakib on just one but Bravo spilled a sitter at long-on off paceman Zia-ul-Haq when the total was 6-2 and that cost Lahore dearly. Shakib smashed two towering sixes off Gohar’s next over and flourished with two boundaries in the next Bravo over.
It was finally Bravo who held Shakib deep at long-on but by the time Karachi had only needed 13 to win in 38 balls. Shakib hit three sixes and as many fours during his 33-ball knock.
Simmons smashed eight boundaries and two sixes.
Amir was exuberant after the match.
“I am thankful to all my supporters, to the ARY staff and team players and staff for their unstinted support,” said Amir. “I am happy with my rhythm and hope to carry this as we have the aim and the target to win the PSL.”