tense win assurances Zalmi’s top two placing

With a nail-biting two-run victory against Karachi Kings to round out their league stage campaign, Peshawar Zalmi guaranteed a top-two position and two chances to play in the PSL 2024 final. The Kings ended their own poor campaign with six losses and a fifth-place finish at the National Stadium after Babar Azam’s half-century and a late burst from Rovman Powell propelled Zalmi to a total of 147. The pitch was soft and surprisingly sluggish.

Babar, the captain of Zalmi, decided to set a goal at the toss and was present to make sure his team made the most of the powerplay because the new ball was hard and made batting easy. Even though Shoaib Malik only allowed nine runs in two overs during this phase, fifty-four runs were scored in the PowerPlay. It wasn’t all plain sailing, though, as Anwar Ali’s opening partner Saim Ayub overcame a poor start (5 off 11 after four overs) to blast a hat-trick of boundaries off the bat, while Babar twice used the DRS to overturn LBW rulings against him.

Run scoring against slower bowlers proved to be quite difficult when Zahid Mahmood dismissed Ayub two balls into the post-powerplay session. Between overs 6 and 10, only 21 runs and two boundaries were reached, with left-arm spinner Minhas, a 19-year-old, delivering his first two overs for just five runs. While Minhas was accounting for Haseebullah Khan, Mohammad Haris stumbled in his attempt to break free from the bonds. Before a run-out in the 14th over ended his innings (51 off 46), Babar had been silent for some time. He had hit Zahid Mahmood for a six and a four. Malik, Mahmood, and Arafat, the spin three, with a combined figure of 12-0-65-2.

Powell’s cameo was necessary to give Zalmi a slight advantage near the 150-mark. In his 18-ball 30, the West Indian hit three fours, two of which were in the last over that Hasan Ali delivered to support Zalmi.

The Kings’ openers, Tim Seifert and James Vince, scored 10 runs less in their reply than Zalmi did despite going through the powerplay together. Additionally, run-making became more challenging as the ball grew softer and the spinners became more proficient, which meant the hosts would constantly be behind the eight-ball. In the eleventh over, with the Kings at a pitifully sluggish 68/3, Irfan Khan went out to bat. In the next four overs, he hit a boundary using his improvised approach, reducing the equation from 30 to 50.

But veteran Shoaib Malik could not match the necessary pace, and his 22 off 25 balls compounded the Kings’ woes. The hosts needed 17 runs off the final over after Kieron Pollard was bowled out trying to smash out on ball one, and Irfan had scored a last-ball boundary in the preceding over. Aamer Jamal got off to a good start in the over, giving up just four from his first two balls. However, he was hammered for two boundaries in his next two deliveries, reducing the equation to 5 off 2. Zalmi secured a tight but vital victory with a pin-point yorker and a superb short ball that restricted the Kings to only two runs after that.

Brief results: Karachi Kings 145/5 in 20 overs (Tim Seifert 41, Irfan Khan 39*; Naveen-ul-Haq 2-22) lost to Peshawar Zalmi 147/6 in 20 overs (Barbar Azam 51, Rovman Powell 30; Arafat Minhas 1-11) by 2 runs.

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