It was a must-win game for Karachi Kings if they were to qualify for the Playoffs. Thanks to their superior net run rate, they needed only a win and no other mathematical apparatus was needed to chalk out how many balls how many runs were to be made. With victory on their mind and the weakest team of the season, Quetta Gladiators as their opposition, Imad Wasim men fancied victory and they eventually managed to get it courtesy of some brilliantly controlled bowling effort and a blinder from Danish Aziz with the bat.
This victory by 14 runs meant that Karachi made it to yet another Playoffs of the PSL. Since the start of the league, the team from the financial capital of Pakistan has been able to make it to the Playoffs of every season and are currently the defending champions. Victory to Karachi was going to be an ouster of their arch-rivals Lahore Qalandars and even after earning 10 points, which is equal to the points earned by Karachi and Peshawar, the Sohail Kahtar side, finalists of the last year, failed to qualify to the next round this year.
Defending 176, the Kings started on a positive note removing Saim Ayub when Quetta’s score was just 32. Soon after Jake Weatherald was lost by Quetta and it came down to the same old story once again, Sarafarz Ahmed left to do too much with too few resources at bay. He tried building partnerships with many players including Azam Khan, but the run rate pressure kept mounting and the skipper kept losing one partner after the other.
In the end, when the men in purple needed 37 from the last two overs and Sarfraz was joined by Jack Wildermuth, Mohammad Amir bowled a brilliant over, conceding just five runs. He even dropped a dolly offered by Wildermuth off his bowling. That almost sealed the game for Karachi. With 32 needed off the last over, All Quetta and their 34-year-old captain could manage was 17 runs, losing the game by 14 runs. Arshad Iqbal and Mohammad Ilyas, the two youngsters were the picks of the bowlers for Karachi as they shared the five wickets among them. Ilyas was expensive as well, ending his four-over spell at 3-39.
The only silver lining from the game was Sarfaraz’s fifty, because of the virtue of that, he became the only Quetta player to score a half-century in the Abu Dhabi leg of the tournament. Reacting to the eighth loss among 10 games this season, Sarfaraz said, “We committed the same mistake throughout the tournament, we didn't have match-winning partnerships throughout the season. We will try to rectify this next year by building a solid team.” It is the second time in a row that Quetta have not been able to make it to the Playoffs.
Earlier in the day, Karachi, much like their last game, decided to bat first after winning the toss. They had a slow but steady build-up as Sharjeel Khan and Babar Azam put in 71 runs in nine overs. However from 71 without loss, they were suddenly 99-4 after 15 overs. Chadwick Walton and Imad Wasim tried to arrest the fall, but it wasn’t until Danish Aziz played his 13 ball blinder, scoring 45 runs and pushing the Karachi total to 176 that the team felt secured enough.
Imad felt confident after back to back victories to qualify for the Playoffs. He was also in awe of Aziz who was deservingly announced Man of the Match. Reacting to it, he said, “Without Danish, we wouldn't have posted that score and really happy for the team and Danish,” he said. “Once you get the momentum, you have the belief and confidence. We have some gun players at the top like Babar, Guptill and Sharjeel and hopefully, they will deliver,” the hopeful captain added.
Most likely Karachi would face Peshawar Zalmi in the first Eliminator at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on June 21 as the two rems occupy the fourth and third place in the Points table respectively. However, if Multan Sultans lose big time in their last game against Islamabad, then Karachi might face Multan as well. But as of now, they are securely into the Playoffs.
Skipper Virat Kohli batted with admirable patience and absolute control to lead India’s charge on a rain-hit, cloudy second day of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. Virat Kohli led India’s revival after Blackcaps stuck tho their task of disciplined line and length bowling along with Ajinkya Rahane to take India to a somewhat strong position at 146/3 at the stumps on the second day. For the dismays of the fans across the world and at the Ageas Bowl, along with both unbeaten Indian batsmen, the second day too was marred by the threat of rain and bad light due to consistent overcast conditions. Only 64 over could be completed as the majority of the play in the pst-tea session was washed out due to bad light and imminent rain. Earlier in the day, Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and decided to unleash an all-pace attack on the Indian batting team, that was short of real match practice. New Zealand chose to overlook the left-arm spin of Ajaz Patel and played the quartet of Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson, along with the nibbler of the ball Collin de Grandhommme. Indian opener Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill started on a nervous note and the young right-hander from Punjab survived an early run-out chance. However, they were focused on what New Zealand new-ball bowlers Tim Southee, and Trent Boult were offering and was aware of their off stump to leave as many as they could afford to. New Zealand were guilty of searching too much help out of the overhead conditions and the pitch and tried to employ all the tricks one after another after finding conditions going in favour of them. They were wayward at the start and offered scoring opportunities to both Sharma and Gill in search of magic deliveries and confident Indian openers were awake to the opportunities to cash in. The duo took Indian unscathed past the first hour, but Kiwis mend their ways and went back to the basics which they have been doing over the past couple of years in the World Test Championship cycle. Jamieson got Sharma lured into playing at one he was leaving before the delivery he edged to Southee at the third slip by extracting late swing, while Neil Wagner did floor Gill with his in and out tricks within his first two balls of the game. New Zealand built pressure and the good start by openers was all but squandered by the batsmen in the second hour of the first session. Cheteshwar Pujara carried on his merry way and took ages to get off the mark while Virat Kohli opened his account with a sublime cover drive off Wagner to announce his arrival. Pujara’s long stay at the crease could not pay dividends to India in terms of runs and it was down to the tried and tested pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli if India were to not let the game drift away from their grasp. They batted with control and left the ball all alone outside of their eye line. Southee troubled both of them on numerous occasions but they rode their luck and did not nick behind. The day must have been a frustrating one for both sides with constant on and off the field movement due to bad light but Kohli and Rahane had enough concentration with them to take India home without any further damage. The morning session of the third day holds the key in deciding the path of the game as if India can bat one full session without losing too many wickets, they will have runs to play within conditions that are tailor-made for bowlers. However, New Zealand would be itching to get out on the field and bundle India out as soon as possible to keep them under pressure.
Skipper Virat Kohli with absolute control to lead India’s charge against New Zealand bowling lineup in the helpful conditions in Southampton and there were many individual records too that he achieved on the course of the innings and even before coming out to bat. He surpassed his predecessor MS Dhoni as the most-capped Indian captain in Test cricket with the World Test Championship final being his 61st Test as the leader of the side. Dhoni had led Indian in 60 Tests while men following him are Sourav Ganguly, who captained in 49 Tests and Mohammad Azharuddin and Sunil Gavaskar, who led the Indian side in 49 games each. As a batsman, Kohli became the ninth fastest batsman in the world cricket to reach the 7,500-Test runs landmark while his position among Indian batsmen stood at the fourth-fastest batsman. Kohli took 154 innings while men above him are only Sachin Tendulakr, Virender Sehwag, who took 144 innings each, and Rahul Dravid, who played 148 innings to reach the landmark. Kohli is unbeaten at 44 along with Ajinkya Rahane in the first innings of the iconic Test match between India and New Zealand that has been affected severely so far by the persistent rain and poor light.
Debuts can go horribly wrong and for Australian Jack Wildermuth, it just went worse in his Pakistan Super League debut for Quetta Gladiators. Bowling in the 19th over of the game, he was smoked all over the park by Danish Aziz, conceding 33 runs in one over, the most for any bowler in PSL’s history. The previous record was held by another Aussie Dan Christain while bowling for Lahore Qalandars. The Brisbane Heat player was asked to bowl the over as the original bowler, Naseem Shah pulled out before starting the overdue to cramps. Aziz, who had just arrived at the crease, barely playing five balls in his innings till then, got a four on the first ball through a Chinese cut. Post that though, all hell broke loose as he smashed one six in the leg side with sheer wrist power, then went on to hit one over long-off after shimmying down the crease. On the fourth ball, he was offered a full ball in the slot and he maximised it to hit a six over the bowler’s head. Frustrated, Wildermuth tried a slower one, but to no reprieve, as it was a no-ball for height and was hit over square for the fourth six of the over by Aziz. The last two balls were anti comatic in the manner that only four runs came from them after such belligerent hitting in the overs prior to them. Aziz had scored 45 off just 12 balls and was heading to what could have been the fastest PSL fifty, but was bowled by a Khurram Manzoor delivery on the fourth ball of the 20th over. The 53 runs conceded by Wildermuth was also the joint-most runs conceded by a bowler in a three-over spell in PSL. He equalled his compatriot from Quetta, Zahid Mahmood's record. It was Aziz’s innings that put the Karachi Kings in a favourable position in a do or die match. The Kings set up a target of 177 for the Gladiators.
England have named a 16-member squad for the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka scheduled to start on June 29. Test skipper Joe Root, who was rested for the last series against India has made a comeback in the squad. Batsman Sam Billings, who injured his shoulder and was ruled out of the series against India has also made a comeback while the Curran brothers (Sam and Tom) have retained their place in the ODI squad as well. The ODI squad against Sri Lanka will also see the return of David Willey for England in the ODI side for the first time in two years. Jofra Archer who underwent an elbow surgery was not named in the squad while Ben Stokes, who has recovered from a fractured arm also missed out of a place. In the bowling department, Mark Wood will spearhead the pace department in the company of Chris Woakes and Tom Curran while Sam Curran will fill Ben Stokes’ shoes as an all-rounder. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid have been retained as spinners in the squad to face Sri Lanka. Jonny Bairstow who faced an injury scare in the Vitality Blast has retained his place and will open the batting alongside Jason Roy while the skipper Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler will form the bulk of the middle order.