Karachi Kings break losing streak courtesy Mir Hamza.
It wasn’t quite worth the wait, but if Karachi Kings are to win just one game this season, this one, away to arch-rivals Lahore, is the one they’d likely have opted for. An exquisite bowling spell from Mir Hamza – with wickets both at the top of the order and the death, saw the Kings close out a low-scoring game, beating Lahore Qalandars by 22 runs. It seemed at the halfway mark that 149 wouldn’t nearly be enough against this Qalandars side, but an off-colour home side never quite got into it, and Hamza’s 4 for 27, as well as Chris Jordan’s miserliness at the death, ensured the Kings had their first win in nine games.
There appeared a lack of intensity to the Qalandars’ chase right from the outset, with Fakhar Zaman’s dismissal in the first over setting the tone for what would follow. A tepid, conservative innings saw Shaheen Afridi’s men manage just six boundaries and a six in the first 16 overs, as wickets fell at regular intervals to keep sending the asking rate up. Mohammad Hafeez’s 24-ball 33 was the closest a Qalandars player came to steering the chase, but there was little support from the other end and an uncharacteristically disciplined bowling effort from the Kings meant the Qalandars were being constricted out of the contest.
Harry Brook and David Wiese put on 55 for the sixth wicket as they tried to pull off a late heist, but they had been left too much to do. It was Hamza who returned to kill the game off, removing both men inside three balls, and a forensically accurate final over from Jordan slammed the door shut in the Qalandars’ faces as they limped to 127.
There was little to distinguish the Kings’ innings from several previous games. It was an uninspired, sloth-like effort from the top order that never really threatened to post a total that might normally be considered challenging. Babar Azam held the innings together without doing too much more than that, while Zaman Khan sliced through the top order to put the Qalandars on top. When Rashid Khan ripped through the lower order to leave the Kings tottering at 116 for eight, they looked set to slump to yet another chastening defeat.
It was down to a crucial little cameo from Lewis Gregory, whose 16-ball 27 got the Kings to something resembling competitive, though even that could only be said with the benefit of hindsight. At the time, it merely seemed his carefree little knock was delaying the inevitable Qalandars’ win, with the home side dropping their guard, perhaps believing the bowlers had done their job. However, it meant Babar’s team took the momentum with them at the change of innings, and never quite let it go.
It might not mean anything in the bigger picture, but Karachi beating Lahore always counts for something.