Fakhar Zaman’s first century in cricket’s Pakistan Super League propelled Lahore Qalandars to a six-wicket win over Karachi Kings, and Islamabad United started its campaign by inflicting a crushing nine-wicket defeat on Peshawar Zalmi.
Left-handed opener Fakhar made 106 off 60 balls and anchored Lahore to 174-4 with four balls to spare as Karachi had its third straight loss.
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The toss didn’t go in favor of Karachi skipper Babar Zaman for the third successive game and his team, despite Sharjeel Khan’s 60, was restricted to 170-7 in its 20 overs.
Fakhar controlled Lahore’s chase by hitting 12 boundaries and four sixes as Karachi’s bowling looked ordinary in the absence of injured Mohammad Amir, who is yet to feature in the tournament due to side strain.
“I try to think of it as one ball at a time and I don’t try anything significantly different,” Fakhar said.
“I am becoming more aware of my role at the top of the order.” Fast bowler Umaid Asif picked up 2-30 but the other two pacers — Mohammad Ilyas (0-43) and Lewis Gregory (0-32) — failed to pose any threat to Fakhar.
Asif dismissed Fakhar with Lahore needing only seven off the last seven balls when he attempted an upper-cut against a slow bouncer and was caught at third man. Samit Patel finished off the game by hitting Gregory for two successive boundaries as Lahore recorded its first win after losing to defending champion Multan Sultans.
Earlier, Sharjeel and Babar (41) provided an ideal platform of 84 runs in the first 10 overs but Karachi’s middle-order couldn’t capitalize in the second half of the innings.
Sharjeel was undone by Mohammad Hafeez who clean bowled the batter with a delivery which turned sharply. Babar was bowled by Rashid Khan’s sharp googly and Haris Rauf picked up 3-33 to restrict Karachi’s total.
Islamabad rout Peshawar
Islamabad followed the template of choosing to chase at the National Stadium after winning the toss. After Sunday’s results, all six games this season have so far been won by the teams chasing.
Peshawar was restricted to 168-6 and, in reply, Alex Hales and Paul Stirling struck blistering half centuries as two-time champion Islamabad cruised to 172-1 in 15.5 overs and handed Peshawar its heaviest-ever defeat in the PSL when batting first.
Hales hammered 13 fours and a six in his 82 not out off 54 balls, and Stirling was even more ruthless in scoring 57 off just 25 deliveries.
Sherefane Rutherford’s unbeaten 70 off 46 balls had rescued Peshawar from 35-4.
Islamabad ran through the top order with fast bowlers Faheem Ashraf claiming 2-23 and Hasan Ali took 2-34, which included bowling Tom Kohler-Cadmore on his third delivery.
Haider Ali played on to captain Shadab Khan’s short delivery before Rutherford and Shoaib Malik steadied the innings with a 73-run stand.
Stirling and Hales provided a whirlwind start of 78 in the batting powerplay and didn’t spare either the fast bowlers or the leg-spin of Usman Qadir (0-41), who had a forgettable outing of three overs.
Stirling was finally run out halfway through the innings when he couldn’t beat the direct throw from captain Wahab Riaz, who led the side after completing his isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Islamabad signing Rahmanullah Gurbaz of Afghanistan continued where Stirling left off as the young batter smashed an unbeaten 27 off just 16 balls that included a helicopter six over mid-wicket off expensive fast bowler Sohail Khan (0-45).
Hales duly finished off the game by striking two consecutive boundaries against Ben Cutting as Islamabad made an early impact in the competition with a brilliant all-round performance.