A 130-run partnership between Rilee Rossouw
and Sarfraz Ahmed
- the second highest in PSL history - saw Quetta Gladiators beat the Karachi Kings by seven wickets. The pair came together with the Gladiators tottering at 30 for 3 in the fifth over but they combined power hitting with composure, not to mention superb running between the wickets. It was a chanceless stand, a masterclass in how to deal with pressure and gradually take control of a game.
On Friday, Mohammad Amir was the Kings' most impressive opening bowler. This time his opening partner Sohail Khan
took up the mantle, bowling a consistently good length on the off stump line, seaming the ball away from the right-hander. It wouldn't have been out of place on the first morning of a Test match. He got his rewards, dismissing Ahmed Shehzad, Kevin Pietersen and Asad Shafiq in the space of four balls only for momentum to be stolen back by Rossouw and Sarfraz.
Karachi had earlier started off quite cautiously. Chris Gayle scratched out an unconvincing 11 and Kumar Sangakkara searching for form holed out to extra cover for 25. By the end of the fourteenth over, they were 87 for 3. From there, they were never going to get a par score, and only poor death bowling by last year's finalists - Tymal Mills excepted - took Karachi to their final total of 159. But Rossouw and Sarfraz saw to it that it wouldn't be enough.
While the Gladiators fourth wicket partnership was impressive enough, it only really began to pose a threat after a moment Karachi only had themselves to blame. Five balls into the ninth over of the Quetta innings, a no-ball was called because the Kings' didn't have enough fielders inside the circle. That bit of self-inflicted harm was punished severely, Rossouw launching the free hit for six over midwicket. The final ball met the same fate as a good over suddenly went for 19. The asking rate came under eight and the batsmen had all the answers.
Rossouw, who was so impressive against Lahore on Friday in holding Quetta's innings together, was the main architect again, albeit in a more destructive manner. Forty runs came off his first 21 balls before the former South African international slowed down as Quetta's captain Sarfraz began to find his timing.
The pair's running between the wickets is especially worth pointing out. Pressure was regularly placed on Karachi's fielders and several ones were converted into twos. At no stage did it look like a wicket was about to fall, from the moment the pair got together right to the last delivery, a full toss which Rossouw dispatched to the extra cover boundary.
The only phase where Quetta looked like being outplayed was between overs 14 and 19 of the Karachi innings. From 87 in 14, Sangakkara's men plundered 64 runs off the next five overs, taking advantage of wayward - and frankly bizarre - lines and lengths from Quetta's bowlers.
At one point, it looked like they might even get to 170. They might have done were it not for Mills, who more than justified his T20 reputation with a superb spell by varying his pace and line regularly to finish with 2 for 21 in four overs. That included a disciplined final over which yielded just eight runs and ensured Karachi's total didn't get out of hand.
It is often said Quetta do not have superstars in their lineup, relying instead on team performances. There is one glaring exception to that of course in the form of Pietersen. However, when he came in today at 23 for 1, he edged the first ball from Sohail to the wicketkeeper. It was a poor shot first up against the seaming ball and it left him with three runs in two matches. Other teams might struggle in the absence of a contribution from such an instrumental player, but Quetta have still managed to win both their games, showing there might be something in their reputation of being a team rather than just a collection of individuals.
Quetta are the only team to still boast a 100 percent record and sit at the top of the table on four points. Karachi, conversely, are the only side to lose both their games and sit at the bottom of the league. This defeat means Karachi Kings have lost 9 of their 11 PSL matches with their only wins coming against Lahore Qalandars.