For many in Lahore and Karachi, the Pakistan Super League began a week later than the glittery opening ceremony, when the franchises based out of these two cities competed for the first time in the second season.
The biggest and oldest rivalry in Pakistan cricket kept frenzies tweeting about the competition much before it began.
After all, it is a rivalry that has shaped the dynamics of cricket in the country. It is a rivalry that has been existing even before the Beatlemania hit the United States. It is the only rivalry that brings whole country to standstill.
Last year’s fixture between these two sides at Dubai had more eye-balls glued to it in Pakistan than the Indo-Pak match during 2015 World Cup — a fact that underscores the magnitude of this rivalry.
The grandeur of this competition served as a perfect opportunity for any player to turn into a hero overnight. With all the attention on Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum, who are yet to impress in the PSL, 26-year-old Fakhar Zaman seized the occasion with a fiery 56.
Coming in just the second over, after his captain recorded another PSL duck, Zaman made his intentions clear by sweeping Imad Wasim for a six on his very first ball and snatching a boundary on the third.
From there onwards, Zaman anchored Qalandars’ innings setting up partnerships of 45 runs with Jason Roy (26 off 16) and 47 runs with Umar Akmal (25 off 16), overshadowing the T20 specialist batsmen.
He was dropped by Kumar Sangakkara during the latter part of his 36-ball stay. He hit five fours and three sixes, targeting the leg-side boundary predominantly. Those which hit the offside boundary, were off the edges. But the mishits did not deter his confidence.
“Captain tells us to play fearless cricket,” Zaman said while receiving the man-of-the-match award in the post-match ceremony.
With nine runs required per over, Karachi Kings wobbled right from the start. Babar Azam pushed Sohail Tanvir to mid-off region from where Brendon McCullum’s direct hit, at the non-striker’s end, made a case for Chris Gayle’s early return. The TV review, however, revealed him to be safe.
But that did not do help Kings’ cause much, as, Gayle was out in the next over when he skied Sunil Narine to be held safely by Umar Akmal.
Qalandars’ bowlers kept batsmen shackled for the first half of the chase as Kings managed to score at seven per over.
Sangakkara and Shoaib Malik struck 29 in the two overs (11th and 12th) after the Strategic Timeout, bringing Kings’ back into the contest. This was the only time in the match when they looked to be serious contenders to win the contest. They partnered for 101 runs, for the third wicket, in 10.4 overs.
But with Sangakkara’s (65 off 45) wicket in the 15th over, Kings lost any chance they had.