How the game played out
After losing their first three matches of PSL 2020, Lahore Qalandars are now the hottest team in the tournament winning three of four propelled by the thunderous bat of Ben Dunk. The Queenslander flayed a dozen sixes in his unbeaten 99 off 40 balls, the last of which clinched an extraordinary chase with five balls to spare to leave Karachi Kings shellshocked and the home fans delirious in a second consecutive eight-wicket win for Qalandars.
The Qalandars’ form has mirrored Dunk’s, who now has 247 runs in his last four knocks at an average of 123.50 and a strike rate of 226.61, including a pair of 90s that have both featured at least 10 sixes. He managed to render his captain Sohail Akhtar a forgotten sidekick during their 140-run partnership to close out the match. Akhtar was on 30 before Dunk had faced a ball and when he flicked Cameron Delport off his pads past fine leg for a boundary at the end of the 12th over to bring up a 34-ball fifty, Dunk was only on 12. But from then on Akhtar was mostly a bystander at the non-striker’s end as Dunk’s fireworks lit up the Lahore night.
Dunk’s knock also turned a 93-run stand between Alex Hales and Chadwick Walton into a footnote in the match scorecard. Coming off stunning figures of 4 for 5 in the Qalandars’ previous win, Samit Patel should have had his fellow countryman caught at short third man on 4 in the fourth over of the match after the Kings had been sent in at the toss, but Salman Irshad shelled a regulation chance lunging forward on the ring and it allowed Hales to make merry, ending with an unbeaten 80 off 48 balls.
Hales and Walton smashed five sixes apiece, including a tremendous acceleration by Walton belting Usman Shinwari and Irshad for two sixes apiece in the 18th and 20th overs. But they looked like small fries by the end of the match as their combined powerhitting output could not match the ferocity of Dunk.
The TV commentary team weren’t kidding when they said the dismissal of Mohammad Hafeez was a blessing in disguise for Qalandars. The Professor had scratched his way to 16 off 24 balls before charging Umer Khan’s left-arm spin in frustration and splicing a catch to Delport on the ring in the ninth over. Dunk then came in and slammed his second ball over midwicket for six later in the over.
Having needed to score at better than 12 per over off the final 10 in order to chase down the target of 188, Dunk’s 11th six flicked off Mohammad Amir over backward square to end the 18th brought the target under a run a ball.
Star of the day
Dunk, whose innings more resembled a monster jam. The Stone Cold Steve Austin doppelganger opened a can of you know what on the Kings bowling unit. The biggest Stone Cold Stunner was laid on the Kings pair of left-arm spinners Umer Khan and captain Imad Wasim.
The first ball of the 13th from Umer was slightly short and heaved over cow corner by Dunk. Another length ball was smashed straight over long-on two balls later. Umer tried to quicken up his pace in response, which only resulted in Dunk going squarer with a sweep over backward square for a third six in the over.
With the target down to 60 off the last five overs, Dunk swatted Wasim over midwicket for six to start the 16th bringing up his half-century off 23 balls. A sweep over square leg produced a one-bounce four. The next two balls were driven flat over long-off and long-on for six to move Dunk to 69.
On the fifth ball, he was slightly handcuffed by the length being dragged back by Wasim and a mistimed drive went straight back to the bowler at chest height. But Wasim jumped backward in anticipation of the ball coming at him with far more heat than it did and the result was an out of sync snatch at the ball that was ultimately fumbled. It was the last chance the Kings had to end Dunk’s carnage.
The big miss
As costly as the first-innings drop was of Hales, the Kings gave it all back when Dunk was spilled on 11 at deep midwicket in the 12th over by sub fielder Mohammad Rizwan. After coming on for the injured Aamer Yamin, Rizwan could not hold onto a flat heave off the bowling of Delport. Dunk continued to rub salt into the wound for the next eight overs, ending one run short of a century when the target was reached.
Where the teams stand
Qalandars are now level with Quetta Gladiators on six points in a tie for fifth place, though Qalandars have a significant net run rate advantage. They now trail Kings by one point in fourth place, who are level with Islamabad United on seven points but have an inferior net run rate. Both Qalandars and Kings have two matches in hand on United, who only have one match left in the league stage whereas both Kings and Qalandars have three games remaining.