By Sohail Ali
LAHORE, Nov 18 (APP) Babar Azam smashed an unbeaten 49-ball 63 to steer Karachi Kings to their maiden HBL Pakistan Super League title with a five-wicket win over Lahore Qalandars at the National Stadium on late Tuesday night .
The all-format Pakistan captain recorded his fifth half-century of the 2020 edition, which was studded with seven fours, as Kings chased down the 135-run target with eight balls spare. This was his 46th half-century in the format.
Kings were provided a steady beginning as Babar added 23 and 26 runs for the first and second wicket with Sharjeel Khan (13 off 12) and Alex Hales (run-a-ball 11) after which he stitched a 61-run alliance for the third wicket with Chadwick Walton (22 off 27) that settled the game in his side’s favour.
With 11 runs left in the last three overs, Haris Rauf took two back to back wickets as he dismissed Iftikhar Ahmed (four off six) and Shane Rutherford (0) to give Qalandars’ fan a glimpse of hope, but Kings’ captain Imad Wasim took his side home with 10 not out of seven balls.
Babar finished as the highest run-getter of the tournament with 473 runs at an impressive average of 59.12 and a strike rate of 124.14 and, as such, he bagged the coveted HBL PSL 2020 Player of the Tournament award and Best Batsman of the Tournament award.
Qalandars’ pacer Dilbar Hussain was the other bowler to take two wickets as he returned 4-0-28-2.
Earlier, Qalandars had managed only 134 runs at the loss of seven wickets after their captain Sohail Akhtar elected to bat.
The opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Fakhar Zaman provided a cautious start with a 68-run alliance in 10.1 overs.
The two, however, failed to build on it as they were dismissed in a span of four balls by Umaid Asif in the 11th over. Iftikhar Ahmed caught both batsmen.
Tamim, who scored 35 off 38 balls, which included four fours and a six, was the first wicket to fall, while
Fakhar followed him back after adding 27 runs to the total from 24 balls, four of which were hit for boundary.
Problems compounded when Mohammad Hafeez (two off four) got out trying to slog Imad Wasim as Qalandars lost three wickets for two runs in seven balls.
From there on, Qalandars lost wickets on regular intervals as Samit Patel (five off eight), Ben Dunk (11 off 14) and Sohail (run-a-ball 14) fell in the 14th, 16th and 19th overs.
That Qalandars’ bowlers had something to bowl at was because of Shaheen who helped his side gather 15 runs off the last over. Shaheen smashed Mohammad Amir for a six – which was the second and the last of the innings – and a four on the second and penultimate ball of the innings, respectively.
Six of the seven Qalandars’ wickets were shared between three pacers – Umaid (two for 18), Waqas Maqsood (two for 18) and Arshad Iqbal (two for 26) – while Imad returned one for six.
Qalandars’ Shaheen won the Best bowler of the HBL PSL 2020 award with 17 scalps – the most in the edition – at a strike rate and economy rate of 16.4 and 7.11 and Ben Dunk won the Best wicketkeeper of the HBL PSL 2020 award for accounting for nine batsmen behind the stumps.
Peshawar Zalmi’s Haider Ali was declared as the Emerging Player of the HBL PSL 2020 as he scored an impressive 239 runs at a strike rate of over 157.
Scores in brief:
Karachi Kings beat Lahore Qalandars by five wickets
Lahore Qalandars 134-7, 20 overs (Tamim Iqbal 35, Fakhar Zaman 27; Waqas Maqsood 2-18, Umaid Asif 2-18, Arshad Iqbal 2-26)
Karachi Kings 135-5, 18.4 overs (Babar Azam 63 not out, Chadwick Walton 22; Dilbar Hussain 2-28, Haris Rauf 2-30)