Number two versus number three. Karachi versus Lahore - two big cities of the country. It was supposed to be a thriller and the contest lived up to the expectations. Dominic Cork, from the commentary box, remarked, “It is like two gladiators going up against each other” and you cannot disagree with him as there was seldom a dull moment. There were many similarities between the two innings as both teams refused to back down. In the end, it was Lahore Qalandars who emerged victorious by six wickets, chasing the target down with 4 balls to spare and mind you, it was much closer than the scorecard suggests.
Both sides lost three wickets within the Powerplay, both sides had their premier left-arm pacers breathing fire, both sides had breathtaking partnerships during the middle-overs. The difference though, was the death overs phase. Lahore, with the ball, derailed Karachi’s hopes of a 200-plus total allowing them only 37 runs off the last five overs. Karachi, on the other hand, couldn’t repeat the same.
Karachi was tasked to defend 50 runs in the final five overs. When Lahore was bowling, Shaheen bowled a spell of 2-0-11-2 at the death which created the difference. Karachi was expecting the same from Mohammad Amir who had figures of 2-1-7-1 in his first spell. Amir conceded only 7 runs in his third over - 17th of the innings. Dan Christian backed it up allowing only 6 runs in the 18th over while taking the key wicket of Fakhar Zaman. With the required run-rate 15, an over of Amir left and Zaman back in the hut, Karachi had the upper hand.
But Amir, having bowled so well, was carted around for 20 runs, most of which came behind the wicketkeeper. Ben Dunk was aware of the wide yorker tactics and threw a bat at the first such ball of the over which produced a boundary. 25 off 10 balls is within David Wiese’s territory but even he wouldn’t have thought that he would edge consecutive deliveries behind the wicketkeeper for four. The first one was a top edge off a bouncer and the second came through an inside going past the wrong footed Joe Clarke. Flustered to his core, Amir missed the yorker off the next ball and this time, Wiese found the middle of his bat to hit a maximum.
Christian couldn’t sustain the pressure and conceded sixes off his first two balls. After a 119-run stand between Zaman and Dunk, Wiese’s 9-ball 31 provided the perfect finish to Lahore’s run-chase.
Earlier, both sides lost key wickets within the Powerplay - by the virtue of sizzling display of left-arm seam bowling - and got themselves out of trouble with counter attacking batting instead of staying on the backfoot. For Karachi, Mohammad Nabi and Sharjeel Khan put them back on track with a 21-run over to welcome Samit Patel into the attack. Lahore missed out on a golden opportunity to see the back of Sharjeel in the first over itself when Sohail Akhtar dropped a sitter at mid-on. On the positive note, it charged up Shaheen who knocked over Babar Azam with a thunderbolt in his next over. Karachi later lost Joe Clarke and Colin Ingram on successive balls but Sharjeel kept them afloat to 53 for 3 at the end of the Powerplay.
Lahore lost Sohail (a run out similar to that of Clarke), Joe Denly (bowled and beaten for pace akin to Babar) and Mohammad Hafeez. Zaman and Dunk carried with an approach of calculated aggression to keep Lahore in the game.
Scoring only 12 runs off 20 balls at one point, Dunk struggled until he flicked one off his pads over the fine leg boundary for a maximum, in the 10th over. Till then, it was Zaman carrying the chase - 41 off 29 balls at this instance - with the required run rate touching 11.5. However, Dunk only improved with his strike-rate from then onwards, reducing the pressure off Zaman. The pair ensured that the asking rate does not go beyond their reach. The highest it went was 11.6 with eight overs in hand. Post that, runs came from both ends with Dunk matching Zaman stroke for stroke.
Karachi started bowling wide outside the off stump to the two left-handers but the results were mixed. Dunk reached his fifty in 39 balls, just before Zaman fell to Christian for a masterful 83. Although, that event in the 18th over remained to be the last occasion to rejoice for Karachi as Wiese stole the show at the end.
With this result, Karachi and Lahore have swapped positions in the points table. Placed at three prior to this game, Lahore are now second only to Peshawar Zalmi owing to an inferior net run-rate.