Quetta Gladiators 168 for 6 (Guptill 86*, Sarfaraz 29, Shamsi 2-20) beat Karachi Kings 164 for 6 (Rossington 69, Imad 30*, Aimal 2-26) by four wickets
For the second time this season, Karachi Kings were on the cusp of victory against Quetta Gladiators, only to watch as Martin Guptill wrenched it violently out of their hands. On February 18, it was a century in the first innings. Today, an unbeaten 56-ball 86 saw Guptill shepherd his side as wickets fell at the other end before cranking through the gears in the final four overs to all but eliminate Kings while keeping the Gladiators’ faint hopes of making it to the playoffs alive.
For the first 15 overs of the chase, it was painfully evident why Gladiators find themselves at the wrong end of the points table. There was little by way of intent of quality chasing a below par total against an underwhelming Karachi bowling attack. Mohammad Nawaz, promoted to No. 3 after Omaid Yousaf fell early, only managed a scratchy 15 before Mohammad Musa dismissed him. Iftikhar Ahmed continued to struggle with form, trapped in front by Tabraiz Shamsi; the review had a smaller chance of success than a lottery ticket. Shamsi followed it up by dismissing Najibullah Zadran while James Fuller sent back Umar Akmal cheaply, reducing Quetta to 63 for 5 inside ten overs.
Guptill was around at the other end, but there was little to serve as a harbinger of what would follow in the final five overs. Aside from that hundred against Karachi, runs at the PSL haven’t really come for him, a continuation of a trend that has seen him lose form over the last year or so. He had shuffled along to 41 off 40, but the moment he walloped Mohammad Amir for a six in the 16th over, things appeared to fall into place.
But the coup de grace was the 17th over, where a hapless Fuller was brutalised for 24 runs in an over, two sixes and three fours changing the course of the game. Musa copped plenty of punishment in the over that followed with another six and four, and Amir leaked 11 in his over to leave eight off the 20th.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, who had watched passively from the other end, was run out in a mix-up, but by now, it was too late for Kings. Dwaine Pretorius came in and slapped two boundaries in three balls to seal the win, ensuring Gladiators continue to have hopes of an unlikely final four berth.
Earlier, Gladiators had begun well as Naseem Shah removed Kings’ platinum pick Matthew Wade off the first ball. Much of the top order failed to have much of an impact, with Tayyab Tahir and Qasim Akram falling to Aimal Khan, before a sluggish innings from Shoaib Malik ground any Kings momentum to a halt. Any momentum that existed was thanks largely to a lone hand from Adam Rossington, whose 69 formed the spine of the innings, enabling his side to set up for a big finish at the death. That finish was provided by Imad Wasim and Amir Yamin who scored 51 in the final five to give their side a total they could look to defend.
For three-quarters of the chase, they were having no problems defending it. But Guptill was a sleeping dragon at that stage, and when he awoke, the Kings could only watch as a wretched PSL campaign went up in smoke.