Karachi :Arshad Iqbal’s three wickets and a quickfire 46 from Joe Clarke helped Karachi Kings begin their title defence with a seven-wicket win over Quetta Gladiators in the opening match of the PSL 6 at Karachi’s National Stadium.
This was Karachi’s biggest win in terms of balls remaining in the tournament’s history. The opening match also welcomed fans once again to the ground after the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) allowed 20 per cent crowds to attend the matches in Karachi and Lahore. Arshad, later awarded player-of-the-match award, returned three for 16 in his four overs which played a crucial role in bowling out 2019 winners Quetta Gladiators for 121 in 18.2 overs after Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim opted to bowl. The 20-year-old right-arm pacer was supported by left-arm pacer Waqas Maqsood, who took two for 21 in 2.2 overs.
With 39 off 24 balls, Chris Gayle, who hit four fours and two sixes, was the top-scorer in Quetta’s innings. He featured in a competitive match in Pakistan after 14 years and was quick to leave a mark as he hit the first six of this edition. Right-handed Azam Khan, who came to bat at number five, posted the second best score of the innings (17 off 14, one four, one six).
Karachi Kings chased the target in the 14th over as Clarke, playing his maiden HBL PSL match, blasted 46 off 23, hitting six fours and three sixes. He smashed three fours and two sixes in Qais Ahmad’s first over, fifth over of the innings, which went for 27 runs. The 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman who featured for Perth Scorchers in Australia’s Big Bash in 2020-21 season, crafted a crucial 55-run partnership with Babar Azam (24 off 20, three fours) to help Kings recover from Sharjeel Khan’s dismissal in the first over with four runs on the board.
Babar also became the top run-getter in the tournament’s history surpassing his cousin Kamran Akmal’s 1,537 runs from 56 matches. A 39-run stand for the unfinished fourth wicket between Mohammad Nabi and Colin Ingram took the home team over the line. Nabi made his presence felt with a breezy 30 off 14 balls which included three maximums and two fours, while Ingram, who enjoys the record for the highest score (127 not out) in the competition’s history, was unbeaten on 17. Quetta’s Mohammad Hasnain took two wickets for 18 in four overs.
In Sunday’s double-header, Lahore Qalandars, the finalists of the 2020 edition, open their campaign by taking on 2017 champions Peshawar Zalmi in the afternoon, while two-time champions Islamabad United play Multan Sultans in the evening match.
SCORES IN BRIEF
KARACHI KINGS 126-3, 13.5 overs (Joe Clarke 46, Mohammad Nabi 30 not out, Babar Azam 24; Mohammad Hasnain 2-18) beat QUETTA GLADIATORS 121 all out, 18.2 overs (Chris Gayle 39, Azam Khan 17; Arshad Iqbal 3-16, Waqas Maqsood 2-21).