Ahmad Shahzad plays the match winning knock for Quetta Gladiators against Karachi Kings
Quetta Gladiators and Karachi Kings faced off to determine who goes on to the top of the table. Gladiators won the toss and elected to bowl first, which is becoming somewhat of a trend in this tournament now, and they managed to cause the Kings all sorts of problems early on. Anwar Ali got rid of Nauman Anwar in the first over, who only had himself to blame for some poor decision making as he tried to whack one out of the park on his first ball and failed miserably.
Zulfiqar Babar followed and bowled a maiden, and Karachi Kings were put under pressure straight away. Lendl Simmons was looking to build on the form from his previous innings, but was sent back to the pavilion by the MOTM from Gladiator’s first match, Mohammad Nawaz, who continues to impress so far in this league.
There was some fine spin bowling on display as Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi joined in on the fun and bowled a decisive spell for Quetta. He got two crucial wickets of James Vince just as he was beginning to look good, and then bowled out the dangerous Shakib Al Hasan with a peach of a delivery. It was all going well for the bowling side until Karachi’s skipper Shoaib Malik, partnered by Ravi Bopara began to take charge and finish the innings off strongly. Boundaries started to come by for these two towards the end of the innings and Karachi were all set to post a fighting total. Bopara and Malik added 69 from 46 balls for the fifth wicket partnership, before Ravi Bopara was dismissed in the last over. Karachi Kings scored runs 52 from the last five overs, which helped them get 147 for the loss of 7 wickets, which definitely was a fighting total.
Luke Wright came on to open the innings on the back of a great performance in the first match, along with Ahmad Shehzad, and got lucky to get away with a leg before decision off Imad Wasim’s bowling on the second ball of the innings. There was no stopping the two batsmen from then on, as they both got in their stride and made it look all too easy. All the bowlers from Karachi Kings went for runs as Gladiators piled up an impressive 82 runs in the first ten overs without losing a single wicket. Ahmad Shehzad finally found his form, which was long overdue, and began dealing only in boundaries. Suddenly, it seemed that early bit of luck was going to haunt Karachi Kings. Luke Wright was finally dismissed for 47 from 39 deliveries in the 11th over by Imad Wasim, as he tried to hit him for consecutive sixes but was caught straight down the ground by Nauman Anwar.
Ahmad Shehzad continued to boss the spinners and reached his half century in the 13th over with a thunderous six, and with Kevin Pietersen on the other end, Quetta were well on their way to another victory. The pair kept the scoreboard ticking until Shehzad was finally dismissed for a sublime 71 from 46 balls, but by then the job was almost complete. Kevin Pietersen finished proceedings with a six as the Gladiators capped off a convincing victory by 8 wickets in 17.2 overs. Quetta have been the most impressive team so far in this tournament and overcoming them would be a daunting task for any side if they keep playing this way. Karachi Kings play Islamabad tomorrow, should make for a thrilling encounter.