Quetta Gladiators 158 for 4 (Shehzad 54, Shafiq 51, Sohail 2-28) beat Karachi Kings 154 for 6 (Babar 36, Pollard 31, Mahmudullah 3-21) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In a nutshell
It was a game between the top side and the bottom, and boy did it show. Quetta Gladiators thrashed Karachi by six wickets in what was the most one-sided match in the PSL so far, making Sarfraz Ahmed's squad the first to qualify for the knockout stages.
The game was won on the back of a splendid bowling display by the Gladiators as they squeezed the opposition in the middle overs, the pace bowlers flummoxing the batsmen with controlled pace variations and teasing slower bouncers. Karachi had got off to a fast start, reaching 46 for 0 in five overs through their new opening pair of Kumar Sangakkara and Babar Azam.
But in the middle 10-over stretch from the sixth through the 15th, Karachi managed a mere 52 runs. Chris Gayle's ongoing struggles were a feature of the Karachi innings. He scratched around and attempted to dispatch the odd ball out of Dubai in a laboured 34-ball 29 that took all the air out of his side's innings.
Quetta, in contrast, were assured right from the start of their chase, with Ahmed Shehzad and Asad Shafiq scoring a solid 49 from the Powerplay. After that, Shehzad ripped into the bowling, taking the young Usama Mir to task in his first over. Shehzad smashed him for two fours and two sixes in a costly 22-run eighth over and the hundred partnership eventually came up in 11 overs.
An enraged Mickey Arthur called for a strategic timeout after the tenth over, chastising his side in full public view. It had a short-term effect as Quetta stuttered to lose three wickets in the 13th over but the damage had been done early and, in truth, the win was a comfortable one.
Where the match was won
After the first five overs of the Karachi innings, with Sangakkara looking in fine touch and his side at 46 for 0, a solid platform appeared to have been set. But the middle overs saw Quetta's bowlers strangle the opposition.
The spinners bowled a tight line and the fast bowlers dipped into their bag of tricks to leave the opposition - Gayle in particular - flapping at thin air. Anwar Ali and Tymal Mills deceived Kieron Pollard and Gayle a number of times with slower short balls, depriving the West Indian power hitters of the pace they can so lethally use to their own advantage. The stand between the pair, on paper arguably the most menacing duo in T20 cricket, turned out to be a frankly benign one.
The men that won it
Quetta's innings had a touch of the clinical right from the start. Shehzad and Shafiq preferred to hit along the ground early on, knowing they did not have to take too many risks in a chase of 155. Shafiq, not often celebrated for his strike rate, was the more destructive of the pair during the Powerplay, scoring 29 off 19. Their 105-run stand meant Quetta even had the luxury to bear a brief collapse, including a diamond duck from Kevin Pietersen, yet still seal a comfortable two points.
The easiest of drops
That stand might not have been so lethal had Pollard, almost as famous for his spectacular boundary catches as he is for monstrous ball striking, taken an easy catch that Shafiq had spooned up to short extra cover in the sixth over. Mohammad Amir had forced a leading edge, but Pollard was slow to react. Even so, he overran the ball when he dove forward in an attempt to catch it, the ball hitting the top of his palms before slipping out. To the Kings' massive frustration, Shafiq then hit the next two balls for four, twisting the knife into an already wounded Karachi.
The moment of the match
One might have wondered how Karachi coach Arthur would have felt watching his side at the end of a hammering like the one they were experiencing in this match, with inconsistent bowling, poor fielding and a sensational opening stand by Quetta combining to humiliate them. Well, one only needed wait till the end of the tenth over to find out.
Arthur called for the timeout and demonstrably tore into his side with the cameras rolling as Sohail Khan appeared to bear the brunt of the South African's rant. Sir Alex Ferguson would have been proud of that hairdryer. It worked, too, with three wickets coming off Sohail's subsequent over, including a direct hit from backward point by Imad Wasim to run out Pietersen before he had faced a ball. However, Karachi's rude awakening had come far too late.
Where they stand
The result reinforces the status quo, with Karachi extending their lead at the top of the table to three points. Karachi remain last on four points, and now need to win both remaining games to have a chance of qualifying.