Akhlaq, bowlers power Karachi Kings to thrash Lahore Qalandars

LAHORE: Right-handed opener Muhammad Akhlaq struck a magnificent half-century on debut bowlers bolstered Karachi Kings to a dominating 86-run victory over Lahore Qalandars in the last group fixture of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season eight.

Set to chase a massive 197, the Qalandars’ batting lineup crumbled against a disciplined Kings’ bowling attack and consequently bundled out for a meagre 110 in absence of Rashid Khan, who got retired hurt.

The Qalandars were never in the hunt as the side lost their in-form openers Fakhar Zaman (13) and Abdullah Shafique (2) cheaply with just 20 runs on the scoreboard in four overs.

The hosts then dealt with another setback when Akif Javed castled Kamran Ghulam (11) in the sixth over and tightened the Kings’ grip on the game.

Qalandars’ batting lineup then continued to crumble against the Kings’ bowling attack before eventually being restricted to 110/9 in the 19th over.

Since their all-rounder Rashid, got retired hut after sustaining a blow on his head, the Qalandars were deemed all out and thus Kings registered a dominating 86-run victory over the hosts.

Hussain Talat top-scored amid Qalandars’ dismal show with the bat with a gritty run-a-ball 25, while Haris Rauf (18) remained the other notable run-getter.

Skipper Imad, Imran Tahir, Mohammad Umar and Akif bagged two wickets each, while James Fuller struck out a batter.

Opting to bat first, the Kings’ batters dominated the depleted Qalandars’ bowling attack as the visitors piled up a massive total of 196/7 on the scoreboard after some collective effort.

Earlier, the Kings got off to an unwanted start as opening batter Haider Ali fell in the first over after managing to score eight off five deliveries.

Following the early setback, debutant Akhlaq alongside Tayyab Tahir scripted their side’s recovery as the pair added 70 runs to the total at a quick pace.

Tayyab, who was looking solid to bring up his second half-century of the season, fell 10 runs short as Talat broke the crucial partnership in the eighth over. He scored a quick 40 off just 23 deliveries with four boundaries and a six.

Talat then struck again in the same over as he dismissed Qasim Akram (2) to dent the Kings’ flying start; restricting them to 83/3 in eight overs.

Following back-to-back dismissals, skipper Imad joined Akhlaq in the middle and settled things down for his side with a brief fourth-wicket partnership with the latter bringing up his half-century in 34 balls.

Akhlaq, however, could not stretch his brilliant knock and fell to Rauf in the 13th over. He top-scored for the Kings with 51 in 36 balls, hitting five boundaries and two sixes.

Imad then changed gears after Akhlaq’s departure and charged on the Qalandars’ bowlers amid his vital 52-run partnership with Ben Cutting.

The captain carried on his sublime form to score a blistering 45 in 31 deliveries, laced up with six boundaries before Zaman castled him in the 18th over.

Cutting then thrashed Haris all over the park in the 19th over to bolster the total at the backend before falling in the same over after an important cameo of 33 in 14 deliveries, featuring two boundaries and three sixes.

Later, all-rounder Fuller’s unbeaten 10 runs in five deliveries, made sure the Kings post a defendable total.

Zaman, Haris and Talat led the bowling attack for the Qalandars with two wickets each, while Dilbar made one scalp.