Denly and Afridi make short work of Multan
Karachi Kings 188 for 3 (Denly 78, Azam 58, Ingram 29*, Viljoen 2-49) beat Multan Sultans 125 (Tanvir 34*, Afridi 3-18, Irfan 2-18) by 63 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In a nutshell
Led by Joe Denly's 55-ball 78, Karachi Kings crushed Multan Sultans with an authoritative batting performance, and condemned them to their second successive loss in as many days. Put in to bat, Karachi overcame a slow start to amass 188 - this season's highest total - before Shahid Afridi snuffed out Multan's pursuit with a three-wicket burst, including a maiden over.
Despite beginning the chase positively, scoring 53 for 2 in the Powerplay, Multan lost five wickets in the next seven overs, including those of Ahmed Shehzad (24) and Kieron Pollard in successive overs, for merely 34 runs. With heavyweights such as Kumar Sangakkara (18) and captain Shoaib Malik also having departed, Multan had no hope of coming back into the game.
Karachi's innings, on the other hand, suffered no such jitters as they lost only three wickets in all. After a slow start to the Powerplay that yielded only 32 runs for the loss of Lendl Simmons, who laboured to 4 off 13 balls, Denly and Babar Azam first rebuilt and then ensured a surge. Together, they put on 118 in 13.2 overs, the highest this season, and the most any Karachi pair has made in the PSL.
Initially, it was a gusty Denly that did most of the heavy-lifting even as Azam struggled to rotate the strike. Azam eventually caught up, and while he didn't quite manage the lusty heaves that Denly profited from, he hung around till the 19th over and finished with a 39-ball 58, including six fours and a six. The climax saw Karachi's total swell further thanks to some fearless striking from Colin Ingram. Karachi's bowlers enjoyed the cushion of the big total and shared the spoils as Multan were bowled out in the final over.
Where the match was won
Denly and Azam kept the scoring-rate increasing steadily - from 68 to 1 in 10 overs, they made 53 in the next five - but the decisive thrust was provided by Ingram, who blasted an unbeaten 29 off eight balls, with four sixes. Ingram's late assault helped Karachi pile on 49 runs in the last three overs, with Hardus Viljoen going for 21 in the penultimate over. Three of his four sixes were dispatched to the long-on region with the seemingly simplest of methods - clear the front leg, free the arms and tee off. Ingram rubbed it in with a six off the last delivery to puncture whatever was left of the fielding side's morale.
The men who won it
Much like Ingram, Denly's stroke-making, too, was remarkably uncomplicated. With both him and Azam struggling to find any scoring momentum - either through singles or boundaries - Denly began to manufacture opportunities by making room and jumping out of the crease. Denly connected with most of his swings, and when he didn't cart it between deep midwicket and long on, he smacked it through the off side. Having made single-digit scores in his last two innings, Denly also ensured he went the distance this time. During the course of his 25th T20 half-century, which included 10 fours and two sixes, he also helped Azam get past a cautious start and accelerate the scoring.
Where they stand
Karachi have dislodged Multan from second position by virtue of a better net run-rate. Karachi have also played two games fewer than Multan, who have nine points from nine matches and have slipped to third spot on a congested table.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun