Peshawar Zalmi 109 for 4 (Hazratullah Zazai 63, Imad Wasim 2-2) beat Karachi Kings 108 for 9 (Abbas Afridi 27*, Abrar 3-14, Wahab 3-34, Gul 2-13) by six wickets
There are dispiriting losses, humiliations, and whatever it is that happened to Karachi Kings today. A bowling performance of near perfect discipline by Peshawar Zalmi was followed up by a whirlwind 26-ball 63 from Hazratullah Zazai to conclude one of the more one-sided PSL games in the league's history.
Only Islamabad United have gunned down a target quicker, and even their ten-over chase against Quetta Gladiators earlier this week looked like it would be eclipsed comfortably. In the end, three late wickets slowed things down slightly, but it still meant Zalmi had coasted to the target with nine overs to spare. Karachi Kings' poor run since the resumption of the league continues, but the damage this defeat will inflict might reflect just as heavily in the minds as it will in the run-rate column.
The squeeze began from the outset, with Wahab Riaz trapping Babar Azam in front off just the third delivery. Counter-intuitively, Azam's duck underlined his importance to the side; over the past few games, his role, and the rate at which he scores his runs, had come under forensic scrutiny. But with him out of the way, few Kings battters could stamp their authority on an innings regularly punctuated by the fall of wickets.
Kings might have been hoisted by their own petard to some extent, playing as they were a batters light, meaning they had no fallback plan when four wickets fell inside seven overs. Imad Wasim hobbled along during an innings that never caught fire, managing just 19 off 31. It was Karachi's ex-player Abrar Ahmed who was the pick for Zalmi in the end, taking three crucial middle-order wickets, denying the Kings a chance at pushing the score past 120. The 108 they finished with was their lowest in PSL history, and even that came about thanks to some lusty lower-order hitting from bowling allrounder Abbas Afridi. In the end, though, Zazai ensured it mattered not one jot.
Zazai's devastating debut
Zazai is set to become a T20 franchise darling over the years, but even so, the contempt with which he lay waste to experienced, wily Kings bowlers in his first PSL game was a sight to behold. Once Kamran Akmal was dismissed in the second over, Zazai decided he wouldn't let it scupper plans to wrap up the game in a hurry, and Amir was the unfortunate recipient at the end of his first offensive.
The first six was a shade streaky, a top edge over third man, but there was nothing chancy about the three boundaries that followed in an over that leaked 21. It was followed up by an over from the other Aamer Yamin - which proved even costlier, two sixes and two fours from the Afghan seeing him hurtle along to a blitzkrieg half-century. The timing and power were both astonishing, a fearsome 97-metre swipe over square leg perhaps the shot of the night. The 50 would come in just 17 balls - a joint record - and by then, the match had long been over as a contest.
Abrar haunts his old franchise
When legspinner Abrar was first introduced to the PSL by Karachi Kings in 2017, he looked a proper mystery spin bowler, one who might go on to become a valuable asset for his franchise. Opportunities were hard to come by and he was let go after a couple of seasons, but making his debut for Peshawar Zalmi, he showed his old side what they missed. Coming in when Imad Wasim's side were already hobbling after a difficult first ten overs, he kept the Kings on a leash in his first over, allowing just two runs.
The 22-year old burst to life in the one that followed, though. He broke the budding partnership with a carrom ball Najibullah Zadran ended up holing out to long-off, before one that drifted back in put paid to Yamin's brief stint at the crease. With Wahab deciding to bowl him out consecutively, he would sign off by deceiving Waqas Maqsood with a googly, two balls after the batter had smashed him for six. He would end his day with figures of 4-0-14-3, and they didn't flatter him in the slightest.
Where they stand
Karachi Kings were top when the league resumed, but slipped to fifth, outside the qualification spots. Peshawar Zalmi moved up to 10 points alongside Lahore Qalandars, and into second place.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000