Irfan’s blitz in vain as Peshawar Zalmi edge Karachi Kings in last-ball HBL PSL 9 thriller

March 11, 2024

KARACHI: Muhammad Irfan Khan’s gutsy 31-run knock went in vain as Peshawar Zalmi registered a narrow two-run victory over Karachi Kings in the 29th match of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9 here at National Bank Stadium on Monday.

The enthralling victory lifted Peshawar Zalmi to the top of the HBL PSL 9 standings with 13 points in 10 matches, followed by Multan Sultans with 12 points, who are yet to play their final group-stage match.

Chasing 148, the home side managed 145/5 despite Tim Seifert’s anchoring 41 and Irfan’s blistering 39.

The Kings had a steady start to the pursuit as James Vince and Seifert notched up an anchoring 61-run stand.

The hosts were marching comfortably until Naveen-ul-Haq broke the partnership in the ninth over by dismissing Vince, who scored 21 off 27 deliveries.

Karachi Kings then lost two more wickets in quick succession as their skipper Shan Masood (0) and mainstay Seifert walked back in consecutive overs as Peshawar Zalmi struck back.

With the scoreboard reading 68/3 in 10.3 overs, Irfan joined experienced Shoaib Malik in the middle and attempted to anchor the run chase.

The pair added an important 49 runs before Naveen struck again to provide another important breakthrough to Peshawar Zalmi as he cleaned up Malik in the 18th over.

Malik scored a gritty 22 off 25 deliveries, hitting one boundary.

Kings then sustained another massive blow to their pursuit when Luke Wood outclassed Kieron Pollard (1) with a slower delivery in the next over.

But Irfan showed grit and smashed Wood for a boundary on the last delivery of the penultimate over as Kings then needed 17 off the final over.

All-rounder Anwar Ali brought them in touching distance by hitting back-to-back boundaries on the third and fourth delivery but only managed a single on the fifth.

Kings needed four off the last delivery with set batter Niazi on strike. Aamer Jamal held on to his nerves and bowled a perfect yorker to seal a thrilling victory for Zalmi.

Irfan Niazi scored 39 off 26 deliveries with the help of seven boundaries.

Naveen led the bowling attack for Peshawar Zalmi with 2/22 in his four overs, followed by Wood, Jamal and Ayub, who bagged one each.

Opting to bat first, Peshawar Zalmi managed an average total on the board despite a solid start to their innings.

Their in-form opening pair Babar Azam and Saim Ayub looked in control in the early phase of the innings and led Zalmi to 54 for no loss at the conclusion of the batting powerplay.

Shan Masood’s decision to bring Zahid Mahmood into the attack bore fruits as the leg-spinner struck in his first over to break the threatening partnership by dismissing Saim.

The left-handed opener scored a cautious 19 off 18 deliveries with the help of three boundaries.

Meanwhile, Babar Azam was joined briefly by Mohammad Haris and Haseebullah Khan as both the young batters had a short stay at the crease.

The skipper led Peshawar Zalmi’s batting charge from the front against a disciplined bowling attack of Karachi Kings and amassed his half-century with authority by smashing Mahmood for a boundary in the 14th over.

But he perished in the same over while attempting a quick double, courtesy of an exceptional fielding effort from Mahmood.

Babar remained the top-scorer for Zalmi with 51 off 46 deliveries, including an impressive tally of five fours and a six.

His dismissal halted the flow of runs for Zalmi, putting their batters under pressure.

Consequently, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, in a desperate attempt to hit big, fell for a scratchy nine off 14 deliveries, bringing Zalmi down to 113/5 in 16.5 overs.

Later, Rovman Powell’s swashbuckling cameo, which lasted in the final over, bolstered Zalmi to a decent total.

He smashed three boundaries on his way to an 18-ball 30.

For Karachi Kings, Hasan Ali, Arafat Minhas, Daniel Sams and Zahid Mahmood made one scalp each.

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