Mills and spinners help Karachi Kings defend 149
The England quick, captain Imad Wasim and Shahid Afridi sliced through Quetta Gladiators' batting line-up and mitigated Karachi Kings' collapse of 6 for 13
In a nutshell
Karachi Kings' decision to bat raised eyebrows twice - firstly, when they ambled to 60 for 2 in the first 10 overs, and secondly when they lost their six wickets for 13 runs. But what they did in between eventually proved enough at the end, as their bowling attack - led by captain Imad Wasim
, Mohammad Amir
and Tymal Mills
- ensured that a 150 chase was a bridge too far for Quetta Gladiators.
Quetta had slumped to 15 for 3 inside the first five overs and never really recovered. There were spurts of spunk from Umar Amin (31) and Mohammad Nawaz, whose 30 off 20 balls kept his side in the hunt. But, with 37 required off 17 balls, Amir induced a faint inside edge to have Nawaz caught behind and quash the possibility of any late uprising. Earlier, with Shahid Afridi
also having chipped in with an outstanding catch at the boundary to remove Amin, Quetta, which doesn't possess the most robust middle order, entered the final phase in an even more depleted position
That Karachi got to 149 was largely due to Colin Ingram, whose 21-ball 41 injected momentum into what had been a lethargic innings up to that point. Karachi's troubles were mainly due to Shane Watson's canny bowling, which saw him pick up three scalps to reach 200 wickets in T20 cricket. Along with Joffra Archer, the flavour of the season, and Anwar Ali, Watson choked the flow of runs. Ingram and Ravi Bopara, though, counterpunched their way through the middle overs with a 48-run stand in 4.3 overs and gave their team the insurance that mitigated their collapse later on.
Where the match was won
At the half-way mark, Quetta might have fancied a relatively straightforward chase. Instead, Karachi unleashed their gun bowlers and effectively killed the chase in the Powerplay. Wasim took the new ball and conceded only three runs in the first over. Watson then attempted to run himself out twice in vain in the second over bowled by Amir before eventually succeeding off the penultimate delivery.
In the next over, Asad Shafiq, probably torn between guilt for being partially responsible for Watson's run-out and the need to ramp up the scoring rate, holed out to deep square leg. With Mills joining the party to prise out Kevin Pietersen, who departed after a couple of eye-catching strokes, Quetta found themselves at 26 for 3 in six overs. For good measure, Afridi bowled a tight spell to go for less than six runs an over and sustain the pressure.
The men that won it
It can be rightly contended that but for Ingram and Bopara's strong push Quetta might have struggled further. Further, Wasim's tight-fisted bowling in the Powerplay cannot be overstated. However, with Quetta needing 43 off 24 balls and a dangerous Nawaz looking for a late twist, it was Amir and Mills that pinned the opposition down for good. They collectively conceded 25 runs from overs 16 to 19 and picked up two wickets during the phase to leave Quetta requiring 28 runs off the last over.
Where they stand
Karachi have dislodged Multan Sultans from the top of the points table by virtue of having a better net run-rate, while Quetta are at the bottom. Quetta have an immediate shot at redemption as they take on Lahore Qalandars in the night game on Saturday. Karachi will next play defending champions Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun