Englishman Joe Clarke made an impressive debut, helping his team Karachi Kings march to victory in the inaugural game of Pakistan Super League’s sixth season at the National Stadium in Karachi. Clarke’s 23 ball 46 was instrumental in taking Babar Azam’s men to a short target of 122.
Quetta started their defence of the small total in a great manner with Mohammad Hasnain getting out Sharjeel Khan in the very first over. Clarke, 24, wasn’t given much free space either until the fourth over. After the end of the third over, Karachi were struggling at 12-1. But it was at this time that Clarke loosened up, hitting Naseem Shah for 19 runs in an over. In the very next over, the Shrewsbury born hit Afghan leggie, Qais Ahmed, for 27 runs and ended all hopes of a Quetta fight back.
However, the free run of the English batsman didn’t last long as he picked out Azam Khan at the long leg boundary off a Mohammad Shinwari delivery. Mohammad Nabi, who joined skipper Babar Azam after Clarke’ fall then made sure that no more hiccups were put in the chase even as Azam got out. Nabi scored an unbeaten 14 ball 30 runs.
Hasnain was the pick of the bowlers for Quetta, making the ball talk and being able to get the ball to nip back in for left-hander and move away for the right-handers at ease. It was with one of the outswingers that he got Babar to nick it and get caught behind the stumps brilliantly by Quetta skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed. But before getting out, Babar became the highest ever run-getter in the history of PSL, overtaking Kamarna Akmal. He now has 1540 runs in the league.
Earlier in the evening, Karachi after winning the toss put Quetta to bat first. Quetta got to the worst possible start as they lost both their main men in Sarfaraz and Tom Banton. Needing a partnership, the team depended on veteran hitter Chris Gayle to deliver, but he failed once again, although he was still the highest run-getter with 39 runs. Medium fast bowler Arshad Iqbal was the highest wicket-taker for Karachi with three scalps. Among others, Waqas Maqsood took two wickets while rest of all the bowlers who bowled also too at least one wicket.
There couldn’t have been a better way for Jharkhand to begin their VijayHzare Trophy 2021 campaign than their skipper hitting a 94 ball 173 and then their top speedster picking six wickets to roll over the opposition under 100. Ishan Kishan hit a 94 ball 173 to help Jharkhand reach a mammoth 422/9 in their 50 overs. Apart from Kishan, Anukul Roy, Virat Singh and Sumit Kumar hit fifties as well. In his innings of 173, the 22-year-old Patna born hit 19 fours and 11 sixes. Apart from his excellence with the bat, Kishan also took seven catches to cape off a brilliant day at the office. Coming to chase, 423, Madhya Pradesh were all over the place as they were bundled out for meagre 98. Veteran paceman of Jharkhand, Varun Aaron scalped six wickets while Shabaz Nadeem, Bal Krishna and Rahul Shukla shared the rest of the spoils. Opening batsman, Abhishek Bhandari top scored with 42 runs. In other games of the day, Gujarat, Hyderabad and Baroda made winning starts as they beat Chhattisgarh, Tripura and Goa respectively. Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 winners Tamil Nadu too had a winning start as they defeated Punjab in their opening encounter. Defending champions Karnataka though found Uttar Pradesh as a hurdle losing their opening game by nine runs (VJD) Method. Kerala, Railways and Andhra also started their campaign on a winning note defeating Odisha, Bihar and Vidarbha quite comprehensively.
Hours before the start of the Pakistan Super League, the drama has surrounded the event as two members of the Peshwar Zalmi squad have been isolated after coming in contact with a covid-19 positive person. The two members include one senior player and an official. Speaking on the issue, Pakistan Cricket Board said that it was unfortunate that such an incident happen. But they are also hopeful that within three days, the members would join the team bio-bubble after being declared covid-negative. “The PCB is disappointed that two members of one of the sides showed carelessness and violated the bio-secure bubble protocols by coming into contact with a person who was not part of the bubble,’ an official PCB press release said. Reiterating that the health and safety of all the individuals are the primary concerns of the PCB, it further said, “Pakistan Super League 6 is of paramount importance to the PCB and the event. All players, player support personnel, match officials and family members are once again reminded to diligently follow the PCB Covid-19 Protocols as the PCB will not allow anyone to affect the integrity and credibility of the tournament,” the PCB added in the release. In a separate matter, one of the PSL players, who had been isolated tested, has now been tested positive for covid-19. He will now have to return three negative covid-19 tests before joining the bubble again. Both Zalmi and Qlanadars are set to start their PSL-6 journey by facing each other on Sunday, 21st February.
Super 50, the premium domestic List-A tournament of the West Indies is getting interesting day by day. With just the last round of matches left to be played at the round-robin stage, the race for the semi-finals is getting interesting. Although Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel and Guyana Jaguars have confirmed their qualification by winning all their games in the tournament so far, the race is still on for the last two spots. While T&T have four wins from four games and occupy the top spot, Guyana also have three wins from three games. The race for the last two places is between three teams, the Windward Islands, Barbados and surprisingly Jamaica. Although Leward Islands too has similar points as Barbados and Jamaica and has played all its games. The last match of both Barbados and Jamaica involve those two teams only, therefore, anyone among them would get to more than four points. Thus Leewards is out of the race now. Jamaica, the newest entrant in the race have had the worst tournament until their last game where they beat Leeward Island in a thriller by six runs to earn their first points. Before this game, they had lost all their three matches very badly by margins that were not at all reflective of the talent that the team possesses. Among the other two teams, Barbados too had a dull tournament where they lost to Leeward Island and were beaten comprehensively by Guyana and Trinidad before fighting back to register a huge 110 run win over Windward Island to gain confidence. The equation is pretty simple going ahead in the tournament. A total of three games are left to be played which could lead to three different scenarios. Game-1 Guyana vs T&T If Guyana beat T&T, they would go to equal points with the Red Steel with one game in hand and have an option of topping the league. The men in Red and White however would remain at the second spot even after losing. But If the Keiron Pollard led side wins, they top the group and Guyana fight for the second spot against Windward Island. Game-2 Barbados vs Jamaica The situation here is straightforward, the winner goes to the semifinals while the loser plays the 5th place playoff against the Leeward Islands. There is a subplot in the game in a way that if Barbados wins, chances are it can get up to the third position if Guyana beats Windward in the last game of the round-robin stage. Game-3 Guyana vs Windward Islands The men from the Amazon would fancy their chances to win this one and either remain at the top (if they beat T&T in their previous game) or at the second spot (if they lose to T&T) on the points table. On the other hand, Sunil Ambris' men would be raring to g and beat Guyana to make sure they remain in good touch before the all-important semi-final. They need this win even more as they were hammered by Jason Holder’s Barbados in their last outing and wouldn’t want to go into the semi-finals with two losses in a row. Another subplot of the game directly involves Barbados. If the Windward Islands lose this game and Barbados win its a virtual quarter-final against Jamaica then it would get to the third spot and would face the top-ranked team in the points table. It is because the run rate of Barbados is superior to that of the Windward Islands, even if both the teams would end up with two wins and eight points in their kitty.
South African quick, Kagiso Rabada has indicated that he would miss the first few matches of the Indian Premier League’s 2021 edition. The Delhi Capitals player said that for him, the country comes first and if missing a few IPL games is a hurdle between him and his national duties, he would readily miss them. "Country comes first and I may miss a week of the IPL if the Pakistan series is scheduled at the same time the IPL starts,” the 26-year-old was quoted as saying in iol.co.za. “Delhi has been my home in India, but national duty is a priority," he added. South Africa are scheduled to host Pakistan from 2nd April to 16th and the series would most likely clash with the start of the IPL, although no date has been confirmed as yet. Capitals realising that they might not only miss the services of Rabada but that of his compatriot Anrich Nortje too, chose to strengthen their pace bowling department by buying Tom Curran and Umesh Yadav in the IPL Mini-auction on 18th February.