Kings outclass Qalandars to enhance play-offs chance

From our correspondent

KARACHI: Sharjeel Khan and Babar Azam put on the edition’s record opening partnership to help Karachi Kings brighten their play-offs chances when they broke the momentum of Lahore Qalandars with a thumping ten-wicket win over them in their crucial outing of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 here at National Stadium on Thursday.
Sharjeel (74*) and Babar (69*) batted superbly to enable Kings achieve the 151-run target in 17.1  overs without losing a wicket.
Earlier, pacemen Umaid Asif and Arshad Iqbal took two wickets each to enable Kings to restrict Lahore Qalandars to only 150-5 in the stipulated 20 overs.
The win helped Kings to move to nine points with a couple of games yet in hand. Lahore stand at eight points with a single game in hand.
Chasing an easy target in front of the packed venue, both Sharjeel and Babar demonstrated solid power-hitting. The duo played some glorious strokes towards all corners of the ground to take the game away from Qalandars.
This was the first fifty from Hyderabad-born Sharjeel in this event. He hammered five huge sixes and the same number of fours in his fantastic knock. He faced 59 balls.
Babar also was elegant as usual as Pakistan’s limited-over captain smacked eight fours and one six  from 46 deliveries. This was the third fifty from Babar and overall 38th in this type of cricket.
This was the highest first-wicket partnership of this event. Before this Ronchi and Munro scored 103 for the first wicket while representing Islamabad United against Quetta Gladiators at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on March 4, 2020.
The achievement also enabled Kings equall the largest victory in the PSL history by wickets. Previously Peshawar Zalmi held the record as they had beaten Lahore Qalandars by ten wickets at Sharjah on March 3, 2018.
This was also the largest victory by wickets in this event so far. Previously Multan Sultans had beaten Islamabad united by nine wickets at Lahore on March 8.
It was not the day for Qalandars bowlers as they were mercilessly punished by Kings’ openers. 
Shaheen Afridi (0-37 in 4), Wiese (0-38 in 4), Samit Patel (0-18 in 2) and Haris Rauf (0-24 in 3) were expensive.
Earlier after being invited to bat first openers Sohail Akhtar (68) and Fakhar Zaman provided a solid 49-ru stand in six overs.
It was medium pacer Umaid Asif who gave the much-needed breakthrough to Karachi Kings when he had the out-of-form Fakhar who wanted to hit a delivery that bounced a bit and the left-hander wanted to hit it, failed to connect cleanly and it went onto the stumps after hitting his bat.
Fakhar, who had scored his maiden fifty in previous game, struck three fours from 13 balls.
Afterwards Qalandars kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Arshad Iqbal had Lynn (5) before Umaid Asif got the key wicket of Ben dunk (9) to reduce Qalandars to 90-3 in 12.2 overs.
Dunk, who hit record 12 sixes a few days ago, smashed one four from 14 deliveries.
Arshad Iqbal then further added to the misery of the visitors when he sent skipper Sohail back after he had hammered eight fours and two sixes in his fine 49-ball knock.
Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez then shouldered the responsbility as the right-hander smashed 35 not out off 22 balls to take his side to 150-5.
Hafeez smacked three fours and one six in his good knock.
Umaid (2-34 in 4 overs) and Arshad Iqbal (2-15 in 3 overs) did a fine job for the hosts.
Chris Jordan got 1-24 in his quota of four overs.
Sharjeel was adjudged as man of the match for his glorious batting.
The match was supervised by Michael Gough and Ahsan Raza. Rashid Riaz was the television umpire, Faisal Afridi, the reserve umpire and Sri Lankan Roshan Mahanama served as match referee.
On Friday (today) table-toppers Multan Sultans will take on Peshawar Zalmi at the same venue.
Sultans have already made it to the play-offs.

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