KARACHI: A blitzing innings of Joe Clarke, who scored 46 of 23 balls, helped the defending Pakistan Super League champions, Karachi Kings, in the opening match of the tournament which they won against Quetta Gladiators by seven wickets at the National Stadium on Saturday.
Muhammad Nabi, who came to bat at number five, scored 30 of 14 balls and hit the winning stroke of six runs. Babar Azam, who is also the skipper of Pakistan’s national team, scored 24 of 20 balls.
Muhammad Hussain of Quetta Gladiators was a prominent performer who grabbed two wickets in his four overs and only conceded 18 runs. Usmani Shinwari gave away 10 runs and took one wicket.
Karachi Kings won the toss at the outset and invited Gladiators to bat.
The Quetta openers were back in the pavilion for 17 runs by the fourth over. Only four Gladiators reached double digits, and West Indian hitter Chris Gayle remained the highest scorer after making 24-ball 39.
An Afghan player, Qais Ahmad, offered some resistance to Karachi by scoring 16 of 13 balls, but the entire team was bowled out in 18.2 overs after putting 121 runs on the board.
Arshad Iqbal remained the most successful bowler for Karachi and took three wickets while conceding 16 runs in his four overs.
Earlier, Pakistan’s biggest cricketing event kicked off on Saturday with music and fireworks in Karachi after the edition was suspended last year following the coronavirus outbreak.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement prior to the opening ceremony that it would allow 20 percent of stadium capacity during games — 7,500 fans in Karachi and 5,500 fans in Lahore — to cheer on their favorite T20 teams for a month of cricket played in two cities.
Last year, four matches were played in empty stadiums before the league’s suspension.
Performances by pop stars Atif Aslam, Imran Khan, Humaima Malick and PSL 6 anthem artists, Naseebo Lal, Aima Baig and Young Stunners marked the launch of the sixth edition of the annual cricketing competition at the national stadium in Karachi. They were, however, played on screens as artists did not perform live due to coronavirus health guidelines.
“Pakistan has opened the doors to the rest of the world and PSL was proud to lead this resurgence of international cricket,” PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said during the ceremony.
“The best team will lift the trophy on March 22,” he added, as he thanked overseas players who arrived in Pakistan to take part in PSL matches.
The first 20 matches will be played in the national stadium Karachi between Feb. 20 and March 7. The teams will then depart for Lahore to play the remaining 10 league matches and four playoffs.
The tournament will conclude with a final match at Lahore’s Qaddafi stadium on March 22.