Karachi Kings 134 for 5 (Livingstone 38, Iftikhar 33*, Imad 19*, Lamichhane 2-17) beat Lahore Qalandars 133 for 5 (de Villiers 33, Sohail 29*, Iftikhar 2-4) by five wickets
How the game played out
Karachi and Lahore are the two largest cities in Pakistan, boasting a population in excess of 25 million. These are gigantic numbers, but when the two have met in the latest edition of the PSL, big numbers have been in short supply. The two played out an edgy low-scoring contest for the second time in ten days, but this time Karachi Kings prevailed, thanks to an an all-round performance from Iftikhar Ahmed, which helped them to a five-wicket win. Karachi's need was greater, and they have now propelled themselves back in contention for the playoffs.
It was a subdued batting performance from Lahore Qalandars, who never seemed to get the lift-off they needed to put up a more testing total. Fakhar Zaman was well contained at the top, while Haris Sohail could manage no more than a start. Even AB de Villiers couldn't be his destructive self, and though the South African was at the crease for the better part of Lahore's innings, the team would have hoped for more than the somewhat plodding 32-ball 33 he scored.
Iftikhar was the pick of Karachi's bowlers, oddly bowling just two overs, but conceding just four runs in them and taking the wickets of Fakhar and Haris in the process. It meant they put up 133, left needing another big performance from their bowlers on a track that had begun to slow down.
The bowlers did give it a right go, with Sandeep Lamichhane continuing his dazzling form. He took 2 for 17 in his four, with David Weise impressively economical and Haris Rauf irrepressibly valiant. But not everyone was able to deliver in the way they needed to with only a low total on their side. Yasir Shah was disappointing and expensive, and when Aizaz Cheema bowled a no-ball that went for four, Imad Wasim thumped the ensuing free hit for another boundary. That was it for the Lahore fightback, and impressive as it had been, the flawlessness necessary to defend 133 wasn't quite there.
Iftikhar's first over was the stuff of dreams for Imad's side. He bowled wide to the left-hander, frustrating Fakhar, who skied his second ball straight to Babar Azam at point. Two balls later, he had de Villiers sweeping straight to Babar, who dropped a simple catch. Off the last ball, there was a run-out chance, de Villiers surviving by inches. Iftikhar's day had just begun, and Lahore would never get on the front foot again.
Fakhar opened the bowling in defense of a low total. There was little margin for error in the Powerplay, and the gamble did not work. Karachi carted him around for 14, and they were already off and running.
Star of the day
He won't get the plaudits today because there was just so much happening, but just when Karachi seemed like they might lose their way, Liam Livingstone's calm head set them back on course. Coming in during a time when Karachi had scored just ten runs in four overs, he began by taking six singles in Lamichhane's third over along with Colin Ingram. In the next two overs, he found a four and a six off Wiese and Yasir to keep the asking rate in check. That fifty-run partnership with Ingram may not have been the most explosive, but it was precisely what Karachi required in a moment when Lahore threatened to undo all their good work. Livingstone ensured that wouldn't happen, scoring 38 off 34 to become the tournament's leading run-scorer, and more importantly, keep his side in real contention.
The big miss
It might have been conjectured that bowling with Yasir would give Lamichhane an invaluable learning experience, but on the evidence of their performances, much of the advice may be heading the other way. While Lamichhane has thrived after a rough start, Yasir's game looks like it has fallen away. He never looked in control of the spinning deliveries, and whenever he tried the googly, he invariably ended up dragging it short. The batsmen appeared to pick him out of the hand far better than they did the Nepal teenager.
The 11th over saw Livingstone mete out the toughest punishment, smashing him for two fours and a six. That brought the asking rate from 7.5 to almost a run a ball, with Yasir conceding 21 off 3.1 overs. The contrast with Lamichhane gives the more experienced Yasir plenty to ponder with regards to adapting his game for the shortest format.
Where the teams stand
Karachi and Lahore now both have three wins in seven games, occupying the fourth and fifth positions respectively. They are ahead of Multan Sultans, who have just two wins in seven.