Vince and Imad almost stole an improbable win for Karachi, but Abbas Afridi held his nerves for Sultans in a last-ball thriller
Multan Sultans 196 for 2 (Rizwan 110*, Masood 51, Malik 1-29) beat Karachi Kings 193 for 5 (Vince 75, Imad 46*, Afridi 2-55) by 3 runs
For about ten overs, Karachi Kings looked like they would cruise to victory, but for the other 30, Multan Sultans comprehensively outplayed them. You do the maths. And yet, the numbers were the greatest irrelevance of all in a contest for the ages.
Imad Wasim needed five off the final ball to seal a heist to end all heists in a PSL classic. Explaining how we got there is an epic story of its own, but in its denouement, Imad couldn't quite pull it off, and Sultans celebrated a scarcely believable three-run win.
Just ten minutes ago, and yet, what seems like an age ago, Kings needed 37 off the final nine balls, dead and buried by all accounts. Wides, no-balls, lost nerves and Imad himself somehow brought it down to six off the final four, plundering 31 off the next five balls. Which is, remember, a mathematical impossibility.
But it wasn't a PSL impossibility. Abbas Afridi, having seemingly lost his nerve when it mattered most, found a way to claw things back, dismissing Ben Cutting with two balls to go. Kings managed to get Imad on strike for one final shot at eternal glory. As Kings fell short and a packed Multan stadium exulted, Imad's eyes glistened.
Kings had won the toss and puzzlingly opted to field, despite their thumping win against Lahore Qalandars batting first on Sunday. Shan Masood, who had struggled for form until today, began much brighter, taking the lead from his captain in the powerplay. A 31-ball 50 from the left-hander ensured Sultans edged ahead after the first six while Mohammad Rizwan scratched and scribbled around, unable to quite find his usual timing. When Masood arrowed one down Imran Tahir's throat, Sultans had 84 in the first ten, and the platform had been set.
It was the perfect time for Rilee Rossouw to come in, but it was Rizwan instead who would shine brightest in the final few overs. The Sultans captain had three fifties in four innings until Wednesday, but would top it all off with a stunning century, taking just 18 balls to move from his 50 to his hundred, getting there in style with a couple of sixes and then a scrambled couple as Kings lost their discipline in the field. He would finish with an unbeaten 110 off 64 by the end, giving Multan's crowd an innings to remember in the final game the city will host this PSL. The final six overs had yielded 85 runs for Sultans, and at that stage, a haggard Kings already looked done and dusted.
However, James Vince came out firing on all cylinders. He put Sultans' bowling attack to the sword in an astonishing powerplay, with Kings racking up 72 in the first six overs. There were eight fours and five sixes during the powerplay, and while Matthew Wade was a useful support act, it was really all about the Englishman. It took him 20 deliveries to get to 50 with a huge six over cow corner, and Kings were seemingly on course.
There they might have stayed until a fateful mix-up between Haider Ali and Vince. In the melee, it was Vince who ended up out and watched from the dugout as his team-mates failed to pick up the baton. Shoaib Malik struggled throughout a scratchy innings as Sultans successfully applied the squeeze, and appeared on track for a comfortable win in the end, particularly when the equation was down to 37 off nine.
But the drama was only just beginning. Imad flayed Mohammad Ilyas for a pair of sixes, and with 22 off the final over required, a neck-high full toss that went for six suddenly put Kings in pole position. Cutting would smash Afridi for the biggest six of the night to leave his side just one hit away.
But that hit proved elusive as Sultans, and an electric crowd, had the last laugh in a game anyone involved would never forget.
Courtesy By: CricInfo.com