Islamabad United 204 for 4 defeated Karachi Kings 201 for 5 by six wickets (Azam 72*, Faheem 41, Amir 1-40, Shamsi 1-40).
Azam Khan’s extraordinary counterattacking knock snatched the victory from the Karachi Kings, who had been dominating the game from the outset. Islamabad United’s middle order batsman scored an unbeaten 72 off 41 balls, contributing to a 125-run partnership with Faheem Ashraf and a six-wicket victory. The setback brought the Kings close to elimination.
United had never pursued a target more than 200 before, so when Kings posted 201 thanks to another superb performance from their captain Imad Wasim, his batsmen were in a precarious position. They began strongly, as United always does, but Mohammad Amir scored early to eliminate Colin Munro, and despite Alex Hales’ cameo, Aamer Yamin eliminated him with the final ball of the powerplay. Rassie van der Dussen was beaten by a low shot from Tabraiz Shamsi, and all of a sudden, United were three goals down at the interval and the asking rate had risen to 12.
A week ago, Azam had devastated Quetta Gladiators, and United were in contention when he stood at the crease. In the eleventh over, he hit Imad Wasim for a four and a six; no boundaries had been struck in the preceding four. It allowed United to resume operations. A pair of sixes from Shamsi in the following over brought the asking rate below 12
Faheem gave help, if not too many runs, at the other end, but Karachi’s desperation grew. This was especially apparent on Amir’s expression, as he pleaded continuously for lbw calls and blasted both Karachi reviews with reckless abandon. Amir’s convoluted reasoning was evident when, after running out of reviews, he hastily signaled for another one on yet another unreasonable request, only to be informed that it wasn’t possible.
There was no longer anything clouding Azam’s judgment. He passed 50 with a massive six off Yamin, and boundaries appeared in every over from the eleventh to the final. United appeared to have clinched the win when Faheem finally joined the party with a six in the last over, but Asif Ali’s six and four made it official.
Therefore, this was yet another game in which Imad scored runs in a losing effort. After an aggressive powerplay in which Adam Rossington and Tayyab Tahir scored 61 runs in the opening six overs, United had put Karachi on the back foot. Early on, Rumman Raees, Tom Curran, and Hasan Ali each took a wicket, and Faheem soon followed suit, leaving the bottom middle order in another precarious situation.
Imad answered his team’s call once more, making a gallant stand as a lone individual for a team that has come to rely on them. Almost single-handedly, he helped the Kings score 82 points in the final six minutes, utilizing a remarkable assortment of shots he never seemed to possess before this league, and certainly never in such rapid succession. Imad’s reverse sweeps off pace, hooks, and aerial drives were immensely effective, and the bowlers watched as he demolished what United believed to be a promising opening ten.
Even towards the end, he shown selflessness by refusing to farm the strike in pursuit of a century, preferring to finish with an unbroken 92. Imad may not have deserved to lose, but in what has been a common refrain this season, not enough of his teammates deserved to win.
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