Azam, Sarfaraz steer Gladiators to victory over Kings

Sports

Quetta Gladiators, playing their third match only four days into Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) fifth edition, didn’t show any signs of tiring as they chased a 157-run target against Karachi Kings at the National Stadium on Sunday.

Karachi elected to bat first after winning the toss and came into the match with an opening combination of right-handed batsman and world’s best T20I batsman Babar Azam and left-handed hard-hitter Sharjeel Khan.

Sharjeel was silenced by Quetta’s bowling as he scored only six runs off 12 balls, managing a strike rate below his usual one, before being caught and bowl by left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz.

Babar, who has been the man-in-form for quite a long time for whichever team he plays, was however the first man to go, before Sharjeel as he scored 26 off 23 balls courtesy five boundaries. He was bowled out by left-arm pacer Tymal Mills.

England right-handed batsman Alex Hales and South Africa left-handed batsman Cameron Delport then held the reins of Karachi’s batting and contributed an important 29 and 22 runs to the team’s total respectively.

Quetta pacer Muhammad Husnain dismissed Hales, while right-arm pacer Sohail Khan accounted for Delport.

Incoming Chadwick Walton’s (one off four balls) stay was shortened after being run out, but right-handed power-hitter Iftikhar Ahmed (25) added decency to Karachi’s total of 156.

Meanwhile, Karachi captain Imad Wasim could only contribute eight runs off 10 balls. Tail-ender Umaid Asif also added nine runs to the team’s total.

Mohammad Husnain was the pick of the bowlers for Quetta with his three wickets for 33 runs in four overs.

In pursuit of a chase-able target, Quetta were given a good start by former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and right-handed England batsman Jason Roy. Both batsmen got run out in a span of two overs, with incoming Ahmed Shehzad also finding the long-on fielder while trying to go over the top.

With Quetta pushed into the corner, captain Sarfaraz Ahmed walked in and he was joined by the much-criticised for his heavy build Azam Khan, son of former Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Moin Khan.

The two then mixed it up, scoring with quick singles and doubles and a boundary here and there, to take the match nearly to its end with a partnership of 85 runs off 54 balls.

Azam, in the process, smacked some powerful shots to put on display his hitting prowess for selectors who will be drafting the final team for this year’s T20 World Cup. He hit four boundaries and two sixes to finish with the score of 46 off 30 balls, after being run out unluckily.

Sarfaraz wasn’t holding back too as he crunched two boundaries and one six to score 37 runs in Quetta’s winning endeavour.

Meanwhile, even the captain needed some help from his fellow batsmen as the match came down to the wire. Anwar eased the pressure off the skipper with two sixes to take Quetta past the finish line.

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