Karachi Kings 135 for 5 (Azam 63*) beat Lahore Qalandars 134 for 7 by five wickets
How the game played out
If Karachi Kings' owner Salman Iqbal were a scriptwriter, it's unlikely he'd have had the imagination to plot out a Karachi Kings triumph in quite as deliciously satisfying a manner as this. Not only did Karachi Kings romp to their first PSL title at the fifth time of asking, they did so at home, and against arch-rivals Lahore Qalandars.
What's more, it was a boy from Lahore in Babar Azam who proved central to their victory, his sixth consecutive half-century ensuring there would be no jitters on the way to a below-par target. The title was sealed with eight balls and five wickets to spare, with Azam finally ensuring he'd stick around until his captain Imad Wasim knocked off the winning runs.
Lahore Qalandars won the toss, and to the surprise of many, opted to bat first. It was the first time a side opted to do so in this year's playoffs, and, with three of the first four finals won by chasing sides, appeared to fly in the face of history. Moreover, this was a used pitch, and it was evident from the outset that the Qalandars were unsure how it might play. Fakhar Zaman and Tamim Iqbal struggled to keep the runs ticking over, with the dot balls racking up as the pressure mounted.
A 68-run opening partnership might appear ostensibly handy, but it isn't when it takes half the innings to bring it up. Wasim was excellent in the way he kept mixing up his bowlers, who backed him up with their discipline and intensity. As Iqbal and Zaman both holed out off Umaid Asif - brought in to replace Wayne Parnell, leaving Karachi with only three overseas players in their side - in a pivotal 11th over, Lahore began to panic, and subsequently disintegrated. Seven wickets fell for 50 runs as Lahore once more began to resemble the side that finished bottom of the table four years in a row, while Karachi applied the pressure.
To defend 135 - something they had never done before - Lahore needed the wicket of Azam, and the Pakistan skipper was in no mood to comply. Batting with the assuredness of someone who has almost forgotten what it's like not to score a half-century, he set the tone with a couple of boundaries off Shaheen Shah Afridi in the first over, and ticked the runs off efficiently thereafter. Lahore thought they were in the game when Alex Hales fell cheaply and Haris Rauf took two in two, but Azam ensured all that excitement would prove ephemeral.
Team effort with the ball
This was billed as a contest between Lahore's batsmen and Karachi's fast bowlers, and Lahore skipper Sohail Akhtar raised the stakes when he decided we'd get that duel to start off. When Zaman walloped Mohammad Amir for a couple of early boundaries, it appeared Lahore's batsmen were edging the contest, but a superbly disciplined bowling performance bogged Lahore down for the first half of the innings, before blowing them away in the second.
Amir might have been expensive, but the lesser-fancied Waqas Maqsood, Arshad Iqbal and Umaid Asif more than made up for it, each chipping in with two wickets while conceding just 62 runs between them across 12 overs. None of Lahore's big hitters were allowed freebies, and under intense, relentless scrutiny from a trio that very much hunted as a pack, Lahore would find themselves ripped apart.
Miss of the day
Aside from Azam, it wasn't really a day for the big names. Lahore Qalandars' fancied batting line-up never managed to get off the ground in its entirety, with Iqbal, Zaman, Ben Dunk and David Wiese all missing out. Some might have pitched this as a contest between Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi, but they were the two most expensive bowlers on the night, failing to take a wicket between them.
Amir would suffer the ignominy of Afridi swiping him over cow corner for six before paddling him over short third man, but while Afridi flashed that endearing, infectious grin then, he'd later have it wiped off by Wasim, who knocked the winning boundary off his bowling. It might have been the most significant night in the competition's history, but some of the biggest stars would want to forget it.
Karachi Kings won the PSL for the first time in the league's history, following titles for Islamabad United (twice), Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators. For Lahore Qalandars, who had finished bottom every season before this one, a second-placed finish was historic in its own right.