Danish Aziz, Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Ilyas kept Karachi Kings on course to defend their Pakistan Super League title when they defeated Quetta Gladiators by 14 runs to eliminate Lahore Qalandars in the penultimate group match of the 2021 edition at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Saturday (June 19).
Aziz slammed a hurricane 13-ball 45, including a record 33 runs off a seven-ball 19th over from Jack Wildermuth, which lifted Karachi Kings to 176 for 7 after they were reeling at 136 for 5 in 18 overs. Quetta Gladiators, who made five changes to their side for their final outing in what was a forgettable series for them, finished at 162 for 7 in 20 overs.
Karachi’s victory meant Lahore Qalandars failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth time in six attempts and will now take a return flight along with Quetta. Kings eliminated Qalandars on net run-rate after both the sides finished their 10 matches with 10 points apiece.
Aziz, who smacked two fours and five sixes, added 53 runs for the sixth wicket in 18 balls with Chadwick Walton, who returned unbeaten on a 27-ball 34 with two fours and two sixes.
After electing to bat first, Karachi had made a solid start in their must-win match by reaching 71/0 in nine overs, before they lost their way and stuttered to 136 for 5 in 18 overs. Sharjeel piloted Kings’ positive start by scoring a 34-ball 45 with three fours and four sixes, while Babar Azam contributed a 25-ball 23.
The story for Gladiators was the debut of left-arm spinner Arish Ali, who returned highly impressive figures of 4-0-28-4. His victims were big fishes Sharjeel, Martin Guptill (5), Najibullah Zadran (12) and Imad Wasim (3).
In their target chase, Quetta Gladiators were never in the hunt after none of their batsmen were able to convert good starts into big scores except Sarfaraz Ahmed, who top-scored with 51 not out from 33 balls with eight fours.
Jake Weatherald (25), Hassan Khan (24) and Saim Ayub (19) were the other notable run-getters, while Kings’ fast bowlers Mohammad Ilyas (3 for 39) and Arshad Iqbal (2 for 39) shared wickets.
(With inputs from PSL release)