By our correspondent
KARACHI: Martin Guptill’s superlative century – the first of the HBL Pakistan Super League 8 – scripted Quetta Gladiators’ six-run win over Karachi Kings at the National Bank Cricket Arena on Friday evening. Guptill’s astonishing effort – that saw him rack up the joint-second highest individual score in HBL PSL history with 67-ball 117 – consigned Karachi Kings to their third straight defeat of the season.
Quetta Gladiators were in dire straits early in their innings when the opposing team’s skipper Imad Wasim ran riot with a scorching spell upfront returning three for 16 in his four overs. He began proceedings with a double-wicket maiden, grabbing the scalps of Jason Roy and Abdul Wahid Bangalzai for ducks before castling Umar Akmal with a sharp incoming delivery to leave Gladiators tottering at 13 for three in the third over.
Sarfaraz Ahmed could not offer much resistance and was sent back after a struggling 11-ball five on the first ball of the seventh over. It brought Iftikhar Ahmed to the crease with Guptill and the two batters added 69 runs for the fifth wicket in 52 balls before Iftikhar miscued a pull shot off Mohammad Amir to Imran Tahir.
That then followed was a blistering exhibition of quality striking from Guptill, who launched a death overs onslaught. The 36-year-old New Zealander reached his half-century in 44 deliveries and then accelerated to score the next 50 runs in just 18 balls. The highlight of his ballistic charge came in the penultimate over when he smashed three sixes and three fours off Andrew Tye. He clubbed 12 fours and five sixes in total as Quetta Gladiators posed 168 for seven.
In reply, Karachi Kings’ progress was beset by the loss of wickets at frequent intervals. Sharjeel Khan failed to add anything to his side’s score, falling to Mohammad Nawaz, while Haider Ali, also perishing for a duck, was bowled by Qais Ahmad.
The 11th over saw dismissals of Matthew Wade and Imad off Mohammad Hasnain’s bowling that left Karachi Kings struggling at 76 for five. Shoaib Malik then conjured a fighting half-century similar to his innings against Peshawar Zalmi on the same ground on Tuesday as the hosts took the game to the last over.
Malik played some delightful strokes in his 49-ball 71 not out embellished with eight boundaries and a solitary maximum. Irfan Khan made an unbeaten 37 off 26 deliveries with one four and three sixes. The unbroken 86-run stand between the two, however, was not enough to haul Karachi over the line as Naseem Shah (one for 29) and Hasnain (two for 29) gave away just six and seven runs respectively in the 18th and 19th overs leaving an improbable task of 24 runs in the last over of the game.
Scores in brief:
Quetta Gladiators 168-7, 20 overs (Martin Guptill 117, Iftikhar Ahmed 32; Imad Wasim 3-16, Aamer Yamin 3-37)
Karachi Kings 162-5, 20 overs (Shoaib Malik 71 not out, Irfan Khan 37 not out, James Vince 22; Mohammad Hasnain 2-29, Naseem Shah 1-29, Qais Ahmad 1-29)
Player of the match – Martin Guptill (Quetta Gladiators)
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1900 – Karachi Kings v Lahore Qalandars at National Bank Cricket Arena