Article by: Ali Abdullah
Still basking in the glow of fiercely fought PSL V playoffs capped by a humdinger of a final that went all the way down to the wire, Pakistan is all set to play, watch, and cheer even more cricket with two national sides touring New Zealand about now and the organizers prepping to host the English side in October 2021 for the first time in sixteen years.
Karachi Kings earned PSL glory for the first time earlier this month after downing Lahore Qalandars in a nail-biting finale that was decided in the super over.
The cheering for the PSL V champs was scarcely over when the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) announced the selectors had picked the squad for the New Zealand tour. Meanwhile, the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) and PCB have confirmed the English side is set to tour Pakistan in 2021 after a sixteen-year hiatus.
Karachi to Host England
England are set to tour Pakistan in October 2021 for two T20Is in Karachi. This will mark England’s first tour to Pakistan in sixteen years with their last visit coming way back in 2005.
Subsequent series between these sides were either held in England or UAE, which became Pakistan’s adopted home ground.
PSL V Glory Goes to Karachi Kings
Karachi, Multan, Peshawar and Lahore were the only four teams left for the PSL V playoffs after the final stretch of the tournament was postponed earlier this year because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir lifted Karachi Kings into their first Pakistan Super League final with a victory in the super over against table-toppers Multan Sultans. Multan faced Lahore in the Second eliminator after defeating Peshawar in the first eliminator.
Amir gave away only nine runs in the super over by bowling brilliant yorkers to South African Rilee Rossouw and Englishman Ravi Bopara. West Indian Sherfane Rutherford smashed Sohail Tanvir for a six and a four in the super over, eventually guiding Karachi to 13-2.
Earlier, Karachi captain Imad Wasim’s unbeaten 27 had pushed the game into the super over off the last ball when he flicked fast bowler Mohammad Ilyas to square leg boundary for a four as the hosts finished at 141-8.
Karachi had restricted Multan at 141-7 after Wasim won the toss and opted to field first with Bopara making a top-score of 40. “Special credit to Amir (for the super over), to me he’s one of the best bowlers in the world”, Wasim said.
Karachi players wore black armbands in memory of Jones, their late coach. Both teams stood in a ‘D’ shape to honor the former Australian batsman.
“I want to dedicate this win to Dean Jones. If he was here, he would have been very happy. We’re going to play the final for Deano again”, he said.
Multan made a stunning comeback during the regulation 20-over game through Tanvir’s (3-25) double strike in the 17th over. Pakistan’s all-format captain Babar Azam (65 off 53 balls) scored a half-century and had Karachi in control at 116-3 before Tanvir had him caught behind.
Lahore Qalandars won the toss and elected to bowl first with Peshawar Zalmi racking up a score of 170/9 although their overall performance was below expectations. Haider Ali got out at the second ball of the first over ending the opening partnership quickly and exposing the team at the start of the first innings to immense pressure. However, Peshawar Zalmi was able to bounce back in the game with Shoaib Malik scoring highest with 39 runs off 24 balls while Imam-ul-Haq stuck around and helped score 24 runs off 19 balls. Faf du Plessis added 31 runs off 25 balls to the total while Hardus Viljoen scored 37 runs off 16 balls.
Even though Lahore Qalandars had a weak start to the match, they quickly gained momentum with the help of Mohammad Hafeez who scored an impressive 74 runs off 46 balls, eventually helping the team to victory. Lahore Qalandars progressed to the second eliminator by beating Peshawar Zalmi on Saturday by five wickets as their experienced batting line-up remained calm after falling to 33/3 with Mohammad Hafeez, Ben Dunk, Samit Patel, and David Wiese guiding them to victory.
The second eliminator was played between Lahore and Multan. Mulan remained the table toppers throughout the tournament but unfortunately lost their form towards the end of the tournament, losing both the Qualifier and the second eliminator. Lahore made it to the final at Multan’s expense.
The HBL PSL V final had two new teams and anointed a new champion. It was the biggest competition of Pakistan’s cricketing history. It was KARACHI VS LAHORE – pitting cricket fans from (and for) Pakistan’s two most populous metros in a frenzied emotional tussle every bit as epic as the match itself.
One of the world’s leading batsmen, Babar Azam knocked a commanding half-century to help his side win their first championship in five years at Karachi National Stadium.
Azam smashed seven boundaries in his 49-ball 63, but it was skipper Imad Wasim who hit the winning boundary to help the Kings overhaul a modest 135-run target in 18.4 overs.
The final — one of the most anticipated in PSL’s short history given the rivalry between the country’s two biggest cities — was played after a gap of nearly eight months after the PSL’s fifth edition came to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Kings took home a glittering trophy plus a $500,000 purse, while Lahore received $200,000.
The Kings began their innings on a high note, with openers Babar Azam and Sharjeel Khan both hitting two boundaries each in the first two overs. Qalandars had their first breakthrough in the fourth over, however, with Sharjeel (13 off 12) getting caught splendidly by Fakhar Zaman off Samit Patel’s first ball.
Dilbar struck again in the 16th over, bowling out Walton (22 off 27), while Haris Rauf sent both Iftikhar Ahmed and Sherfane Rutherford packing on consecutive balls.
Imad Wasim hit a stylish four to end Kings’ innings at 135-5 and lift their maiden PSL trophy. Lahore Qalandars, who opted to bat first after winning the toss, earlier finished at 134-7 in the showdown against Karachi Kings. President Arif Alvi congratulated Karachi Kings on winning the title, terming it “a good win”.
Pakistan & Pakistan A Touring New Zealand
The Pakistani selectors dropped veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik and pacer Mohammad Aamir from a 35-member squad for the upcoming New Zealand tour. The cheering for the PSL V champs was scarcely over when the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) announced a 35-member squad for the New Zealand tour – the selectors conspicuously dropping veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik and pacer Mohammad Aamir.
Interestingly, it is a combined squad that includes players for both the senior team and the Shaheen side – with no hard and fast allocations to one or the other side. The squad that left for New Zealand on 23 November, is to spend fourteen days in quarantine after reaching New Zealand in line with global COVID-19 safety protocols.
Pakistan plays three T20Is on 18, 20, and 22 December 2020 before their ICC World Test Championship fixtures to be held in Mount Maunganui and Christchurch from 26-30 December and 3-7 January respectively. The schedule for the Shaheens is yet to be confirmed by New Zealand Cricket although it is expected to be played concurrently.
The squad departs for New Zealand on 23 November. Babar Azam has already been announced as Pakistan’s captain in all formats. His vice-captain in Tests will be Mohammad Rizwan in the tour which will be staged in a bio-secure environment in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PCB said both 38-year-old Malik and 28-year-old Amir were left out as the selectors prefer youth over-age. The dropping of former captain Malik, who now plays only T20 cricket, could mean that the selectors don’t have him in mind for next year’s T20 World Cup in India. He played in the T20I series against England in September but was not in the Pakistan T20I team in the just-concluded home series against Zimbabwe.
Left-arm pacer Aamir was also not considered for the recent white-ball home series against Zimbabwe. He last played a Test in January 2019. He, however, played in the T20 International series against England in August-September this year.
Another senior player, Asad Shafiq, who has played 77 Tests, was left out ‘due to lack of form’ after 10 years.