Dark horses Quetta Gladiators rode on a brilliant half-century by opener Ahmed Shahzad to beat a fancied Karachi Kings by eight wickets and made it two wins in a row in the Pakistan Super League in Dubai on Saturday.
It was a deja vu for the Quetta captain Sarfraz Ahmed who won a crucial toss and instantly put his opponents into bat – regarded as the bane for this PSL as teams who won the toss are also winning.
Despite Karachi Kings putting up the highest total — 147-7 – thus far in this league but did not show any fight through their much touted bowling. That said, it was case of not taking away credit from the Quetta outfit.
They chased down the target on the same Dubai stadium pitch which is now used for the fourth match in succession.
Apart from losing the toss, Karachi Kings could bemoan a crucial umpiring decision when Shozaib Raza, known for his bloopers at international level, ruled Luke Wright not out off the second ball of the chase when Imad Wasim’s incoming delivery hit him right in front of the middle stump.
Raza has been on the domestic scene for a long time now but is not learning with time. He has also committed some blunders in international matches but Pakistan Cricket Board has surprisingly persisted with him.
In the Twenty20 series against England in late November last year, Raza gave Umar Akmal out and that blunder cost Pakistan the match.
But Karachi Kings captain Shoaib Malik played down the incident gracefully.
“Its human to make mistake,” said Malik after the loss. “I will not call that the turning point but yes I hope our umpires, just like our players, will be groomed at this PSL.”
That reprieve gave Wright a chance to bat freely, scoring 39-ball 47 with the help of four boundaries and two sixes and put 92 for the opening stand with Ahmed Shehzad who finished with 46-ball 71.
Shehzad’s dominance, which he rarely exhibts at international level, brought Gladiators within ten runs of victory. He hit five boundaries and four sixes.
It was innings right at the crucial juncuture for Shehzad whose place in the side for Asia Cup and World Twenty20 was in serious danger. But Shehzad showed his potential and reminded selectors he deserved another chance.
Kevin Pietersen (29) and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (02) polished off the required runs.
Karachi captain Shoaib Malik tried his variations but that could not come off and even Mohammad Amir was unable to get a breakthrough.
For the second match running Karachi Kings lost opener Nauman Anwar for 0 and that opened the gates for more wickets. Lendl Simmons, hero of Karachi’s win in the first game against Lahore, also failed to deliver.
James Vince played well for his 30 off 33 balls with one six and a boundary. His fall brought Ravi Bopara (40) and Shoaib Malik (37) to repair the innings with a 69-run stand. Bopara hit three boundaries off 29 balls while Malik’s knock had four boundaries and a six.
Paceman Anwar Ali and spinner Mohammad Nabi took two wickets apiece while Mohammad Nawaz shone second match in running, finishing with 1-19 in his four overs.