DUBAI: England’s Liam Livingstone and Babar Azam put a new PSL record of scoring highest 157 runs opening partnership as Karachi Kings thumped Multan Sultans by seven runs in a last-over thriller at Dubai stadium.
Livingstone, who played two Twenty20 internationals for England in 2017, knocked a brilliant 43-ball 82 on his PSL debut while world’s best Twenty20 batsman Babar chipped in with 59-ball 77 after Karachi captain Imad Wasim won the toss and opted to bat.
Shoaib Malik’s 28-ball 52 and Laurie Evans’s 39-ball 49 gave Multan some hopes of a win but Karachi’s left-arm paceman Mohammad Amir took four wickets in a return-to-form spell for 25 runs to ensure the victory.
This becomes Karachi’s second win over Multan in the two editions while one match ended as a no result.
Malik upped the tempo after Multan were well short on the run-rate in the first ten overs with the board showing 59-2. Malik added 72 for the third wicket with Evans before a crucial run out broke the stand in the 15th over.
Malik smashed five boundaries and two sixes — four boundaries and a six in Ravi Bopara’s 14th over which yielded 24 runs. It reduced the target to 60 in five overs but Malik holed out to Usman Shinwari with 45 needed for victory in 3.3 overs.
Shahid Afridi, who switched from Karachi to Multan, hit three boundaries in his eight-ball 14. Multan needed 20 off the last two overs but Amir conceded just four and dismissed Afridi to bring Karachi back in the match. It was left to an expensive Sohail Khan — who had conceded 49 in his first three overs — to bowl the last over with 16 needed.
It were Livingstone and Babar who set the tone for Karachi’s total of 183-6. Livingstone smashed a four and a six off Afridi, completed his half-century off just 29 balls as Karachi Kings scored 93 runs in the first ten overs. They not only bettered Karachi’s best opening stand of 72 between Babar and Kumar Sangakkara they made against Peshawar in 2017, but it also shattered the overall PSL record of 153 between Sharjeel Khan and Shane Watson for Islamabad against Lahore at Sharjah in 2016.
Australian leggie Chris Green provided Multan their first breakthrough when he had Livingstone caught in the deep and then had Babar and Imad (four) to finish with 3-32. That also stopped Karachi Kings from posting 200 as they managed 34 in the last five overs.
Skipper Karachi Kings Imad Wasim praised the openers and Mohammad Amir who played an important role in the team’s impressive performance.
“I am delighted that we pulled it back in the end,” said Imad. “We got a good total on the board and then got wickets when needed, especially Amir was brilliant.” he added.
Malik, on the other hand, rued lack of boundaries and the dismissal of hard hitting Andre Russell as one of the major reasons behind their defeat.
“It was a good match,” said Malik. “We lacked boundaries in the final overs and the dismissal of Russell, who can hit at will and anywhere, let us down. We should not have allowed them to score that many runs but on a good wicket their openers batted very well.”