Karachi Kings were given a scare at the death by James Faulkner and Tim David, but held on to keep their qualification hopes alive
Karachi Kings 176 for 5 (Azam 54, Guptill 43, Rashid 2-25) beat Lahore Qalandars 169 for 7 (Hafeez 36, David 34, Ahmad 2-19) by seven runs
Lahore began the chase breezily, Fakhar Zaman depositing a couple of sixes off Imad Wasim in the first over, but the wheels soon came off. Mohammad Ilyas got rid of Sohail Akhtar early before Noor began to strangle the batters. The asking rate had ballooned past 16 when he was done with his spell, but lapses of concentration with the ball allowed David and Faulkner to blaze their way to a 24-ball partnership that added 58 runs and left Qalandars needing 27 off two. However, Abbas Afridi had David hole out to long-off, and Qalandars finally had the fight knocked out of them.
Noor’s teenage dream
The cherry on top came off the last ball of his spell, though, when Hafeez was finally dealt the knockout punch. Hafeez tried to drive him inside out over cover, but the this particular delivery had been pushed through, and Hafeez struggled to get height on it. It would go straight to Imad Wasim at extra cover, and Noor had his second, conceding just 19 in his spell.
Azam’s charmed innings
It’ll be a while before Azam can complain about fortune not favouring him. After he was perhaps a shade unlucky against Peshawar Zalmi to be deemed lbw when the ball might have missed leg stump, the cricket gods made it up to him, and then quite a bit more. It was only the second over when Dunk grassed an outside edge off Azam’s bat, but lady luck was only just getting to work at that point. He survived an lbw shout from Faulkner by about the breadth of a hair in the fourth over, struggling to quite get his rhythm going.
Not that he wouldn’t get further chances. Haris Rauf rushed onto him with a sharp bouncer he skied towards midwicket, where substitute fielder Zaid Alam made a mess of a routine high catch. In the 9th over, he was stranded in the middle of the crease after a mix-up with Guptill, only for Rashid to scupper the run-out chance. Rauf soon turned from aggrieved bowler to the man responsible for reprieving him yet again, putting down an absolute sitter at third man off Ahmed Daniyal’s bowling. Daniyal’s suffering wasn’t over, though as Rashid allowed Babar another life by putting him down at point.
It almost seemed as if the Qalandars had forgotten just because he was from Lahore didn’t mean he was on their side. Hafeez finally put paid to the scratchiest of innings from Pakistan’s premier batter, holding onto one at point as Azam finally fell for a forgettable 44-ball 54.
The Karachi squeeze
A stodgy batting effort from the Kings was followed up by a wayward start with the ball, and for the first three over of the Qalandars chase, elimination beckoned. Thirty-four runs were plundered off the first three overs, with Wasim, Mohammad Amir, and Ilyas all taking a pounding. But Amir’s second over proved a momentum shifter, mixing up changes of pace with a couple of yorkers to put the brakes on. Ilyas carried the momentum from there, a wicket maiden accounting for Akhtar, in addition to putting Qalandars on the back foot. Noor did much of the rest through the middle overs, but without arresting a seemingly irresistible Qalandars top order, the task for the 16-year old would have proved significantly more complicated.
Where they stand
Karachi Kings move up to eight points, and are behind fourth-placed Multan Sultans on net run rate. Lahore Qalandars remain stuck on ten points after their third defeat in a row, but maintain their hold on third place for now.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000