PSL 2021 underway as Kings make short work of Gladiators

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Karachi:   Karachi Kings launched their title defence in the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 in style when they decimated Quetta Gladiators with consummate ease by seven wickets in the opening fixture of the tournament at the National Stadium here on Saturday.
Joe Clarke, on his PSL debut, set up Karachi’s only fourth win in 11 games against Quetta Gladiators as the Englishman clobbered a hurricane 46 from just 23 balls after Sharjeel Khan (4) was trapped in front by Mohammad Hasnain on the fourth ball of the innings.
Young Afghanistan leg-spinner Qais Ahmed suffered the most when Clarke went after him in the fifth over as the right-hander hammered two sixes over long-off and crashed three fours, with the eventful over yielding 27 runs, including three wides.
Clarke batted to leave Quetta bereft of ideas by thrashing six fours and three sixes after having grabbed four catches behind the stumps earlier on. Mohammad Nabi took Karachi over the line with 37 balls to spare as the former Afghanistan captain, who didn’t bowl a single over, smashed three sixes off Ben Cutting, including the winning runs, to end up with a 14-ball 30.
Babar Azam, Pakistan’s all-format captain, meanwhile, had a rather quiet night with a 20-ball 24, but still entered the record books by becoming the highest run-getter in PSL history by surpassing Kamran Akmal’s tally of 1,537 by three runs. He was dismissed after Quetta Gladiators’ skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed took an excellent low catch.
Young paceman Arshad Iqbal was adjudged the man-of-the-match for picking up a career-best 3-16 in four brilliant overs to dent Quetta hopes.
Put into bat, Quetta capitulated within 18.2 overs for a measly score of 121 with no significant contribution from any of their batsmen, barring a breezy 24-ball knock of 39 by Chris Gayle. The big West Indies left-hander, who is known as ‘Universe Boss’ for his plethora of batting records in T20 cricket, didn’t bat in his customary slot at the top. But the 41-year-old was required to come out as early as the fourth ball of the match after Tom Banton had been dismissed by Karachi skipper Imad Wasim for four.
Sarfaraz, opening in a T20 fixture for the first time in more than five years, also failed to get going. The Quetta captain scored just seven before edging a simple catch to wicket-keeper Clarke off seamer Aamir Yamin.
Saim Ayub marked his T20 debut on an inauspicious note as the 18-year-old left-hander perished for eight when an attempt to clear the square-leg boundary counted for nothing, with Aamir Yamin taking a smart catch.
Gayle — who nowadays resembles Johnny Depp, who played the character of Captain Jack Sparrow in the film series Pirates of the Caribbean with long hair and lush beard — provided glimpses of audacious stroke-making when he casually hoisted Aamir Yamin for a brace of successive onside sixes in the fifth over.
Dan Christian, however, cut Gayle’s stay short with subtle change of pace that saw him slice the ball straight to point where Mohammad Amir made no mistake. The departure of Gayle, who hit four fours and two sixes, triggered Quetta’s downfall as four wickets fell for 36 runs within 38 deliveries.
The turnout for the opening fixture was dismal, with mere 2,000 spectators in attendance despite the official announcement that 7,500 were allowed per match.