Bopara seals victory for Karachi single handedly with the performance of the tournament!
It was time for the big city derby in what was an important match with both teams sitting at the bottom of the table. The stadium was buzzing with excitement as the crowd poured in huge numbers. Dwayne Bravo was the stand in captain for Qalandars as Azhar Ali was rested, while the Kings were without the injured Mohammad Amir. Qalandars won the toss and elected to bowl first, with Nauman Anwar and Shoaib Malik opening the innings for Kings in what was a surprising move. There was drama in the very first over, with Kevin Cooper dropping an easy catch in the deep which would have sent Nauman back to the pavilion. His luck continued as he was dropped once again by Bravo a few overs later and made them pay with some big shots. Malik also got into his stride as Qalandars kept dropping opportunities at regular intervals. Nauman raced to 35 off 25 deliveries before Zohaib Khan dismissed him as he lofted one in the air and was caught at long on by Umar Akmal, who made no mistake that time. James Vince was next, but he fell cheaply as he played one off Zohaib straight to Bravo. Qalandars were finally beginning to hold on to their catches while Malik kept himself busy on the crease at kept scoring at a steady rate. With ten overs gone Karachi managed 73/2, and set themselves nicely for a decent total.
The dangerous Ravi Bopara joined his captain in the middle on the back of an incredible performance against Peshawar Zalmi. Lahore finally stepped up their game and tightened the screws a little, making it difficult for the batsmen to score freely. Malik was dismissed in the 13th over by Zafar Gohar after scoring 27 from 25 balls. Shakib Al Hasan and Imad Wasim could not stay on the crease for long, as Bopara took the responsibility of ensuring Karachi finished the innings strongly. He took his time to settle in but as soon as that happened, there was no stopping him. Once again, he played a brilliant innings and increased the run rate as he kept hitting boundaries one after the other. Cameron Delport and Chris Gayle added dropped a few more catches as Qalandars were made to suffer due to their lackluster effort in the field. Bopara smashed Bravo for 20 runs in the 19th over, and remained not out for a monumental 71 from 43 deliveries, becoming the highest scorer of the tournament in the process. Karachi finished their innings strongly and got to 178/5 in their 20 overs.
Lahore Qalandars needed almost 9 runs an over as Chris Gayle made his much awaited return to the league in front of a full house at Sharjah after sitting out in the last two games. He was joined by Cameron Delport and both batsmen got off to a decent start, taking no risks in the beginning and concentrated mainly on rotating the strike. Gayle hit Malik for a six straight down the ground in the fifth over as Qalandars began to pick up the pace. Delport also looked good with some beautiful stroke play on the other end. Sohail Tanvir was whacked away for three boundaries in the eigth over as the openers began to dominate proceedings. Both openers began to free their arms once they were set and began hitting the ball cleanly, with Lahore racing to 90/0 in their first ten overs. Delport was particularly impressive with his feet movement against the spinners. He was dismissed after a stellar 55 from 39 balls by Usama Mir as he charged down the ground and was stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim. Karachi Kings took a strategic timeout soon after Delport’s dismissal. The timeout worked wonders for Karachi as Bopara, who has not put a foot wrong in the tournament turned the game around instantly, this time with the ball.
He took out the dangerous Chris Gayle on his very first delivery as he mistimed his shot and sent it into the air for an easy catch. Bopara dismissed Qalandars’ stand in captain Bravo two deliveries later, and suddenly the Kings’ fans began to make some noise. Lahore looked to rebuild through Umar Akmal and Muhammad Rizwan and focused on taking the heat out of the situation with some steady batting. Their partnership was short lived as Bopara bowled an exceptional 16th over. His first victim was Rizwan who was bowled out, next up was Hammad Azam who was unlucky to be given out leg before, and one delivery later Naved Yasin perished in the same over as he was caught at short cover as Bopara was on fire! He took three wickets in four balls, picking up the first five wicket haul of the tournament. He dismissed Umar Akmal next, and also became the highest wicket taker of the league as he ended up with sensational bowling figures of 4-0-16-6. The match was over after his spell, as Karachi sealed a comfortable victory by 27 runs in the end. Bopara’s all round performance in this match was mind blowing as his dream run in the HBL PSL continues.