For Karachi Kings, their final round robin match against Quetta Gladiators came as a timely relief or a gift from heaven. Desperately needing a victory, Karachi were overjoyed that their final game was against a side that could not buy a win. Thus, Karachi won and their victory over Lahore two nights earlier gave them just enough points and run rate to sneak into the playoffs.
The twin wins do not mean that all is well in camp Karachi. Star pacer Mohammad Amir is wicketless in his last six matches, whereas Sharjeel Khan has had starts of late but not delivered any match winning knocks. The experienced Martin Guptill has flopped completely while Babar Azam, despite leading the PSL 2021 run chart, is missing something.
Of course, the biggest problem of them all is Amir’s spectacular fall. The left-arm pacer, once deemed a generational talent, used to command the respect of world’s best batsmen but has now lost pace and, when the ball does not move much, he becomes the very hittable no matter who the batsman is.
If Karachi have designs of beating Peshawar and defending their title, then Amir has to get his mojo back. Otherwise, no matter how many runs Karachi batters score, with their bowling spearhead being a non-factor, they will be unable to defend most totals.
Peshawar Zalmi’s last three opponents are the three sides they can potentially face in the playoffs. The bad thing is that of the three playoff opponents, they have lost to two recently. And the good thing is that the once side they did beat was the one they face next: Karachi Kings.
Peshawar, in their last meeting with Karachi, did not just win, they demolished the port city side. Having restricted the Salman Iqbal-owned team to just 108-9, they got to the target with nine overs and six wickets to spare. The player of the match was deemed to be Hazratallah Zazai but it really should have been Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz, who had trapped Babar Azam lbw on the very first ball he faced. From that point on, Karachi never recovered and Zalmi never relented.
That win for Zalmi snapped a streak of three straight defeats at the hands of Karachi. That streak aside, Peshawar have a brilliant record against Karachi, having beaten them nine times in their 14 meetings for a win percentage of 64.28 – better than their win ratio against any other team.