Multan Sultans 126 for 3 (Rizwan 52*) beat Karachi Kings 124 for 5 (Sharjeel 43, Tahir 3-16) by seven wickets
There was split opinion on whether the opening ceremony of this year’s Pakistan Super League fell flat, but there was universal congruity that the opening match certainly did. A drab, one-sided contest saw Mohammad Rizwan’s Multan Sultans, who won the toss and, as expected, opted to field first crush home favourites Karachi Kings by seven wickets.
The Kings got off to a solid start but stuttered once a swashbuckling 31-ball 43 from Sharjeel Khan ended, and set the defending champions 125 for victory. Sultans were never in a rush to finish the game off, but the outcome was never in doubt, and by the 19th over, made official what everyone had known for a while – the Sultans had been much too good for the Kings.
Imran Tahir was the Sultans superstar, derailing a Kings innings that perhaps never quite took off as it was meant to. Babar Azam’s role as T20 opener was much scrutinised in the wake of Pakistan’s T20 World Cup semifinal loss to Australia, and he didn’t do his reputation any favours with a scratchy 29-ball 23 for his side, allowing the Sultans to gain the early momentum.
It was only thanks to Sharjeel, and some generous, gentle full tosses from Tim David that helped the Kings push their scoring rate up, and by the end of the 9th over, they had a solid platform, the scoreline reading 64 for none.
The evergreen Tahir, though, would change all that when a googly drew Sharjeel Khan into miscuing one to point, and Khushdil Shah snared an off-colour Babar the following over. Joe Clarke and Mohammad Nabi struggled for timing badly as the Sultans applied the squeeze, and as the need for runs grew desperate, Tahir returned to gobble up a couple more wickets and send the Kings sliding further, his figures reading 4-0-16-3.
The low target, combined with the expectation of heavy dew, meant Sultans strode out under little pressure, and batted like a side that knew it. Rizwan scored just one of his first 7, allowing Shan Masood to take the lead in the Powerplay. A few elegant shots from the left-hander, none more so than a classy drive back over Mohammad Imran’s head for six, set the tone early, and when Masood sent one straight to extra cover’s throat, he had perhaps already done his job with an 18-ball 26.
Multan might look at this game and think this game needed to be killed off more ruthlessly. Sohaib Maqsood and Rizwan trundled along at around a run-a-ball, unencumbered by scoreboard pressure, but in the 15th over, with the Sultans at 101 for one and the game seemingly wrapped up, Nabi struck twice in an over, getting rid of Maqsood and Rossouw. Some nerves kept in as the gap between runs required and balls remaining shrunk, but they were more jitters than panic.