DUBAI // A West Indian powerhouse of Twenty20 cricket played a stunning hand to maintain Karachi Kings’ hopes in the HBL Pakistan Super League — but not the one most people might have been expecting.
Chris Gayle, the Kings’ big recruit ahead of this tournament, was finally stood down after a miserable run of form, replaced by Mahela Jaywardene.
It was Kieron Pollard, though, who stole everyone else’s thunder, as well as the game from Lahore Qalandars, as his remarkable late hitting brought Karachi a five-wicket win.
Pollard ended on 45 from 20 balls, hitting the last two balls for six in a thrilling finish that means Karachi can eliminate Lahore and steal a place in the playoffs if they win their final league match against defending champions Islamabad United — or even via a narrow loss, due to a superior net run-rate at present.
Lahore would be eliminated at the first phase for the second year running.
Mohammed Rizwan, the Qalandars wicketkeeper, played a fine late cameo, worth 32 not out, to take the Lahore franchise to 155 for six from their 20 overs.
On a worn pitch that was taking sharp turn, Karachi’s chase was going to be tough against an attack that included Sunil Narine and Yasir Shah. The two champion spinners took one for 39 from the eight overs they sent down between them.
Brendon McCullum, Lahore’s captain, used eight bowlers in all, even bringing himself on, at the stadium where he took his sole Test wicket.
Babar Azam top scored for Karachi, with 49, but fell to Fakhar Zaman’s rarely-seen left-arm spin, while Karachi’s middle order were undone by three run outs.
However, Pollard repaired the damage with an extraordinary assault in the death overs.
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