Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
Peshawar Zalmi 173 for 4 (Malik 52*, Zazai 41, Asif 3-36) beat Karachi Kings 164 for 6 (Babar 90*, Cockbain 31, Umar 3-22) by nine runs
It is perhaps fitting in a season that hasn't quite been Karachi Kings' that they batted first when the chasing sides were winning, and now that the sides have begun defending scores, they found themselves pursuing one. However, there must come a time when they stop viewing these things as events that merely happen to them rather than events they actively partake in. Chasing or defending, Kings have been comfortably outplayed in each game. Peshawar Zalmi became the fourth side on Friday to leave the home team with a bloody nose, inflicting upon them a nine-run defeat. It came despite a valiant effort from Kings' captain Babar Azam, who scored an unbeaten 63-ball 90 but sees his team on the brink of elimination all the same.
Zalmi, batting first, never quite managed to cut loose, though Hazratullah Zazai did help them get off to a brisk start. Support from the other end was lacking amid some tidy new-ball bowling from Kings. But once Aamer Yamin was thumped for 21 in the fourth over, Zalmi cut away. By the time Umaid Asif dismissed Zazai off the final ball of the powerplay, Kings had reached 53.
Once more, Kings pulled the game back in the middle overs, with Haider Ali and Kamran Akmal struggling for fluency, but an unbeaten 28-ball 52 from Shoaib Malik propelled Zalmi forward. Asif's three wickets kept one end quiet, but Malik, and a little spurt at the death from Sherfane Rutherford, saw 47 come off the last four overs to set Kings 174 for victory.
Those are the sorts of chases right in Babar's wheelhouse, but he wasn't helped much by the fall of two early wickets. Malik got rid of Sharjeel Khan with a beautiful offbreak before Mohammad Umar removed Sahibzada Farhan in the second over of the chase. An eye-catching 74-run stand between Ian Cockbain and Babar appeared to be setting the platform for a clinical Kings chase. But the home side was never quite able to rein the asking rate in, and Babar was struggling to find the dazzling array of strokes he usually unleashes at the death.
It came down to Aamer Yamin to reduce the chasm between balls and runs, and a couple of clobbered sixes off Usman Qadir helped somewhat. But a tight 17th over from Salman Irshad was followed up by a destructive one from Umar, who removed Yamin and Imad Wasim in three balls to turn the game decisively in Zalmi's favour.
With the game effectively over as a contest, Babar finally found his range, finishing the game with three successive fours. That return of personal form, however, is unlikely to provide much succour to the Pakistan captain, who leads the franchise that props up the PSL table with four successive defeats.
Over 20 • KK 164/6Zalmi won by 9 runs
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