Babar and Nabi steer Karachi to six-wicket victory over Peshawar

Babar and Nabi steer Karachi to six-wicket victory over Peshawar
Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi players in action during their Pakistan Super League (PSL) match at National Stadium on Wednesday.

KARACHI: Opener Babar Azam and Mohammad Nabi steered defending champions Karachi Kings to six wickets win over Peshawar Zalmi in their Pakistan Super League (PSL) match at the National Stadium here on Wednesday. Chasing a formidable target of 189, Imad Wasim’s side were 43 for three but the duo of Babar and Nabi forged together a crucial partnership of 118 runs from 61 deliveries for the fourth wicket to guide them over the line. Babar, the Pakistan captain, led the way with a sublime unbeaten 77 from 47 deliveries, studded with six boundaries and three sixes, for his third half-century of this edition, and 17th overall, the most fifties in PSL history. Nabi, who had earned a reprieve on 20, made 67 from 35 balls with eight fours and four sixes.

Mohammad Imran struck on the first ball of the innings as he dismissed in-form Sharjeel Khan for no score. Joe Clarke (17 off 14, four fours) and Colin Ingram (three off 11) were next to go leaving the scorecard reading at 43 for three at the end of seventh over. But the three wickets did not inflict the harm which Peshawar had hoped for thanks to a solid Babar-Nabi partnership. For Peshawar, Saqib Mahmood picked two wickets for 41. Their third victory vaulted Karachi from fourth and displaced Peshawar at the top of the standings. It also continued the trend of teams chasing successfully with this being the 13th victory on the bounce, in this edition.

“It was a really good partnership,” Nabi, who was named Player of the Match, said at the post-match presentation. “The pitches are really good for batting and that’s why me and Babar were saying at the crease that we can chase it down if we bat to the end,” the Afghanistan cricketer added. Wasim, the Kings captain, was chuffed to witness the duo shepherd them home. “The way Babar Azam and Mohammad Nabi played was fantastic to see,” Wasim said.

Earlier, Peshawar were dealt blows early on in their innings as Karachi’s emerging player Abbas Afridi, on his debut, dismissed both openers –– Kamran Akmal (21 off 17, four fours) and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (10 off 11, one six) –– in the fifth over. Shoaib Malik, captaining for the first time in PSL 6 due to an injury to Wahab Riaz, was next to walk back to the pavilion after he was adjudged LBW on the first ball of the sixth over off Mohammad Ilyas. The dismissal left Peshawar reeling at 34 for three. The recovery that the pair of Haider Ali (nine off 12, one four) and Ravi Bopara looked to stage was interrupted in the 10th over with the dismissal of the former off Dan Christian. Peshawar, at half-way stage, were 69 for four. Bopara, however, ensured that the dismissal did not have any adverse impact on the scoring rate as he scored a fighting half-century. Over the course of his 40-ball 58, he struck six fours and a six.

He with Sherfane Rutherford denied Karachi’s bowlers any further inroads for the next nine overs as the two knitted a crucial 82-run partnership for the fifth wicket. The left-handed Rutherford struck three fours and as many sixes in his knock of 46 from 32 balls. That Peshawar were able to post 188 for five was due to explosive batting from all-rounder Amad down the order. Amad returned undefeated on 27 from seven balls. The right-handed batsman clubbed Christian for three fours and two sixes in the final over which went for 32 runs – the most expensive over in the history of PSL.

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