By our correspondent
KARACHI: The HBL Pakistan Super League 6 Karachi-leg produced some thrilling cricket which kept the teams, followers and fans on the edge of their seats throughout the 14 matches.
The teams batting second won the first 13 matches while 2019 champions, Quetta Gladiators turned the tables on Multan Sultans in the last match to be played at the National Stadium with a 22-run win on 3 March, becoming the first team to successfully defend a target in the season.
The sixth edition has so far proved to be as competitive as others with four of the six sides tied at six points each heading to the Abu Dhabi-leg which will be played next month at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Defending champions Karachi Kings topped the points table with six points from five matches (three wins, two defeats). Interestingly, all top four sides, Kings, Peshawar Zalmi, Islamabad United and Lahore Qalandars accumulated six points in the Karachi-leg, with Kings taking the top-spot due to their better net run-rate.
The 2017 champions Peshawar Zalmi occupy the second-spot with as many points, wins and defeats as the Kings but an inferior net run-rate of 0.273 compared to Kings’ 0.697.
Islamabad United, the 2016 and 2018 champions, occupy the third-spot. They recorded three wins in four matches they played in Karachi, their net run-rate is 0.202.
Lahore Qalandars, the HBL PSL 2020 finalists, are in the fourth-spot with three wins and a defeat from their four matches with a net run-rate of 0.085 and six points.
Multan Sultans are languishing in the fifth-spot with two points from five matches (one win, four defeats) and a net run-rate of -0.244 while the 2019 champions Quetta Gladiators are bottom-placed with a win and four defeats in five matches and a net run-rate of -0.936.
Three batters accumulated 200 runs or more in the Karachi-leg with Sultans’ skipper Mohammad Rizwan leading the run-getters table. The wicketkeeper-batsman who has enjoyed a phenomenal run in T20 and T20Is in the recent past scored 297 runs at 59.40 at an impressive strike-rate of 140.09 in his five matches for the Sultans.
Rizwan hit three half-centuries in the Karachi-leg. Pakistan T20I captain and Kings batting mainstay Babar Azam scored 258 runs at 86. The right-hander maintained a strike-rate of 138.70 while registering three half-centuries for his side in their five games.
Babar’s opening partner Sharjeel Khan scored the only century of the Karachi-leg, the left-hander’s 200 runs in five innings were scored at a strike-rate of 170.94, he averaged 40 per innings with the help of a century and one half-century.
The Babar-Sharjeel duo recorded the highest partnership of the Karachi-leg, adding 176 runs against United.
Zalmi’s fast bowler Saqib Mehmood was the highest wicket-taker of the Karachi-leg, the right-armer took 12 wickets in five matches at 12.08 and an impressive economy rate of 7.98, his best figures were three wickets for 12 runs.
Qalandars’ left-armer Shaheen Shah Afridi also carried on his impressive T20 bowling form by snaring nine wickets in four games at 12.55. Shaheen conceded a mere 7.06 runs per over, his best figures were three wickets for 14 runs.
Sultans’ pacer Shahnawaz Dhani caught the attention of the followers and fans of the league by collecting nine wickets in four games in his debut HBL PSL season. Sultans would be banking on Shahnawaz in the Abu Dhabi-leg for a revival of their fledgling fortunes. Shahnawaz was a touch expensive with a 10.33 economy rate in the Karachi-leg but kept taking wickets at regular intervals at 17.22. His best figures were three wickets for 44 runs.
Meanwhile, Zalmi skipper Wahab Riaz recorded the only four-wicket haul of the Karachi-leg, the left-armer took four wickets for 17 runs against United to spearhead his side’s convincing six-wicket victory.
Zalmi’s Tom-Kohler-Cadmore topped the fielders’ charts with five catches in four matches, teammate Shoaib Malik took four catches in the Karachi-leg. Quetta Gladiators’ Faf du Plessis, Ben Cutting and Babar all took three catches each.
Kings’ wicketkeeper Joe Clarke took five catches in the Karachi-leg, Qalandars’ Ben Dunk and Rizwan snared four catches each.
In the Karachi-leg, a total of 446 fours and 176 sixes were hit while 159 wickets fell.
Zalmi chased down a 199-run target on their way to a 202 for seven total (19.3) overs in an epic clash with the Gladiators (198 for seven) which lived up to the Gladiators-Zalmi rivalry expectations.
Kings chased down 196-run target against Sultans (195 for six) on their way to 198 for three in 18.5 overs in another exciting clash which kept the fans glued to the action.
United’s 118 all out in 17.1 overs was the lowest team score in the 14-match Karachi-leg against Zalmi. Gladiators were folded for 121 in 18.2 overs in their match against the Kings.