By AZ Aamir
KARACHI: Babar Azam (77*) and Mohammad Nabi (67) hit superb fifties to enable holders Karachi Kings surge to the summit when they overwhelmed Peshawar Zalmi by six wickets in their fifth round fixture of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021 here at National Stadium on Wednesday.
The duo added 118 in 57 balls for the fourth wicket stand to enable Karachi Kings achieve the 189-run target with three balls to spare after losing four wickets.
Kings needed 16 in two overs and three in the final over from Umaid Asif. Babar took a single off the second ball and Daniel Christian then took a couple off the third delivery to achieve the well-deserved victory.
Earlier, Ravi Bopara (58*) and Sherfane Rutherford (46) catapulted Zalmi to 188-5.
Kings (6 points), Zalmi (6 points), United (6 points) and Qalandars (6 points) join on points but Kings lead due to better net run-rate. Chasing a tough target, Babar and Nabi lifted their team from a difficult position. The century partnership was broken by English medium pacer Saqib Mahmood when he had Nabi, held at long-on by Kohler-Cadmore.
Afghanistan’s seasoned batsman Nabi, who brought in his second successive fifty of the event off 28 balls, smashed eight fours and four sixes in his explosive 35-ball feat. Nabi hit Umaid Asif in the 11th over for two sixes and one four which yielded 21 runs. He then smacked Amad Butt in the 14th over for three fours and a six which fetched 18 runs.
Babar, who brought in his third fifty off 35 balls, hammered six fours and three sixes in his 47-ball knock.
Babar hit Amad Butt in the 16th over for two sixes and one four which yielded 25 runs.
Australian all-rounder Daniel Christian remained not out on nine-ball 16, striking two fours and one six.
Earlier, Kings had a poor start when Mohammad Imran got rid of Sharjeel Khan (0) off the first ball of the innings, held at square-leg by Mohammad Irfan. Irfan then got the vital wicket of Joe Clarke who edged it to keeper Kamran Akmal. The English stumper hit four fours in his 14-ball 17.
Saqib Mahmood then had Colin Ingram (3) to leave Kings struggling at 45-3 in seven overs. Saqib Mahmood was the pick of the bowlers with 2-41 in four overs. Amad Butt conceded 56 runs in four overs. After being put into bat, Zalmi were at one stage reduced to 69-4 in the tenth over. However English batsman Ravi Bopara (58*), who returned after missing a handful of matches due to fitness issues, added 82 in 54 balls for the fifth wicket stand with Sherfane Rutherford (46) to boost the total. The key partnership was broken by Mohammad Ilyas who had the West Indies left-hander Rutherford, held by keeper Joe Clarke. It was a delivery that pitched outside the leg-stump, Rutherford went for a pull, could not connect it with the full blade.
Rutherford hit three sixes and three fours in his 32-ball excellent knock. In the 17th over, Rutherford smacked Mohammad Ilyas for two successive sixes and the second one was excellent as he hit it flat over point.
In the end an explosive seven-ball 27 not out from Amad Butt did the work for Zalmi who were able to set a decent total. Amad hit Daniel Christian for three fours and two sixes in the final over which fetched 32 runs which also included six wides. This also turned out to be the most expensive over in the PSL history.
Bopara, who brought in his first fifty of the event in his second game, hammered six fours and one six from 40 balls.
Earlier, Abbas Afridi made a dream T20 debut when he had Kamran Akmal (21) and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (10) in a single over to reduce Zalmi to 33-2 in the fifth over.
Kamran, who also survived once, smashed four fours in his 17-ball knock. In the next over Ilyas gor rid of Shoaib Malik (1), trapped lbw, as referral upheld the on-field umpire decision after Malik opted for a review.
Daniel Christian then got rid of Haider Ali (9), held at deep fine-leg by Abbas Afridi. Haider hit one four from 12 balls.
Abbas (2-27 in 4) and Ilyas (2-38 in 4) bowled well. Christian remained the most expensive by taking 1-45 in three overs. Mohammad Nabi was adjudged as man of the match. Zalmi made three changes. Skipper Wahab Riaz opted to take rest due to a minor niggle in his back while Imam-ul-Haq and off-spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rehman were left out and Ravi Bopara, Mohammad Irfan and Amad Butt were brought in. Malik led Zalmi. Kings brought in Abbas Afridi in place of left-armer Waqas Maqsood. Richard Illingworth and Ahsan Raza supervised the match.