Karachi Kings' title defence got off to a rollicking start as they crushed Quetta Gladiators by 7 wickets in the inaugural match of PSL 2021. It was Karachi's biggest-ever win in terms of balls, as they chased down Quetta's lowly score in just 13.5 overs.
Electing to field first after winning the first toss of the PSL season, Karachi skipper Imad Wasim gave his team a dream start by sending back the dangerous Tom Banton as early as the 4th ball of the innings.
That brought Chris Gayle (39 off 24 balls) to the crease, and he treated the fans at the Karachi stadium to some fireworks in the company of skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, who had surprisingly come out to open ahead of the Universe Boss.
However, even before Gayle could settle down, Sarfaraz departed while trying to steer Aamer Yamin a little too fine, only to end up giving wicketkeeper Joe Clark his second catch of the innings.
The 41-year-old Gayle took a few balls to get used to the surface before launching into Yamin in the 5th over, smashing the fast bowler for a couple of sixes and a boundary.
But Quetta's attempt at a fightback was quickly nipped in the bud as Saim Ayub and Gayle were dismissed in consecutive overs by Waqas Maqsood and Daniel Christian, respectively.
Arshad Iqbal finished things off with an impressive 3-wicket haul
At 68/4 after 9 overs, the writing was on the wall for the Gladiators. They could only huff and puff their way to 121 runs in 18.2 overs as young fast bowler Arshad Iqbal put the finishing touches to the innings with a 3-wicket haul.
The 20-year-old young gun dismissed Azam Khan and Ben Cutting - the latter with a searing 140.9 kph yorker - in the 13th and 15th over of the innings. Arshad completed his spell with Mohammad Hasnain's wicket to finish with enviable figures of 3/16 from his quota of 4 overs, including a maiden.
Fiery knocks from Joe Clarke and Mohammed Nabi made sure Karachi start their PSL title defence positively
The second innings started just like the first - with a wicket falling in the very first over thanks to Quetta's very own 20-year-old pace sensation, Hasnain. Left-handed opener Sharjeel Khan couldn't handle Hasnain's inswing and was dismissed lbw early on.
If any of Quetta fans' hopes were rekindled after watching Hasnain's fiery opening over, they must have faded away pretty quickly as the counterattacking Joe Clarke set about smashing bowlers right from the get-go. He and Babar Azam added 55 runs off just 26 balls before Clarke's quickfire innings (46 runs off 23 balls) was ended by Usman Shinwari.
Clarke's innings included 6 boundaries and 3 sixes and had set the tone for the last year PSL winner's successful chase. And even though the impressive Hasnain (2/18) came back to dismiss Babar (24 runs off 20 balls) in the 11th over, Karachi had only 35 runs to get to win the first game of the PSL 2021 schedule.
Mohammed Nabi made sure his team got over the line with 37 balls to spare, hitting some lusty blows towards the end to finish the match at a canter. Nabi, who wasn't called upon to bowl by skipper Imad Wasim, finished with 30* off 14 balls, including 3 sixes and 2 fours.
PSL 2021: Karachi Kings v Quetta Gladiators, Who won 'Man of the Match' yesterday?
Arshad Iqbal was the chief destroyer in the bowling department for Karachi Kings, with his fiery spell making sure Quetta Gladiators did not recover from the early setbacks.
The young Turk not only accounted for Azam Khan and Ben Cutting when they were attempting to cut loose at the back end of the innings but also held his own against Chris Gayle, conceding only 4 runs in the 7th over.
For his match-setting spell of 4-1-16-3, Arshad Iqbal was awarded the Man of the Match award in the opening game of the PSL 2021.