Azam Khan puts Kings on the verge of elimination with his 72 off 41 balls
Karachi Kings were surprised by a brilliant counterattacking strike from Azam Khan, who took the victory from them in a match they had been controlling from the beginning.
The middle order batsman for Islamabad United scored an undefeated 72 off 41, teaming with Faheem Ashraf for a 125-run partnership, and securing a six-wicket victory. Kings were in danger of being disqualified after the defeat.
Before Kings’ 201 total, which was largely the result of another superb performance from their captain Imad Wasim, United had never attempted to chase a target higher than 200. As a result, their batters had a difficult task.
They got off to a strong start, as United often do, but Mohammad Amir struck early to get rid of Colin Munro, and despite an appearance from Alex Hales, Aamer Yamin finished him off with the final shot of the powerplay.
Around the midway point, United was suddenly three down and the asking rate had risen to 12. Rassie van der Dussen had just seen Tabraiz Shamsi deliver one stay low against him.
But, a week before, Azam had destroyed the Quetta Gladiators, and while he was in the game, United were engaged.
There had not been a boundary in the previous four overs before he slapped Imad Wasim for a four and a six in the eleventh. It allowed United to resume operations. Afterwards, two sixes from Shamsi caused the asking rate to drop below 12.
Karachi was in need of a breakthrough but Faheem offered support, if not too many runs, at the other end. That was particularly apparent in the face of Amir, who passionately demanded ridiculous lbw calls and carelessly set both Karachi reviews on light.
As Amir ran out of reviews and urgently signaled for another one on yet another unrealistic yell, only to be told it wasn’t an option, the confused thinking was obvious.
Even so, Azam’s judgment was not affected at this time. With a massive six off Yamin, he crossed the 50-run mark and continued on. From the 11th to the last over, boundaries were scored in each over.
Asif Ali’s six and four in the final over gave United the impression that they had won the game when Faheem eventually got involved with a six in the penultimate over.
So, Imad’s addition of runs in a game-deciding situation continued in this one. As a result of an aggressive powerplay in which Adam Rossington and Tayyab Tahir scored 61 scores in the first six overs combined, United had put Karachi on the back foot.
Early on, Hasan Ali, Tom Curran, and Rumman Raees all took a wicket, and soon after Faheem came in, the bottom middle order was once again in need of a heroic effort to avoid disaster.
Imad once more followed the call of his team, making a brave stand for a group that had become used to depending on them.
He used an exceptional variety of shots that he never quite seemed to have before this season, and certainly never put together in such a short period of time, to help Kings grab 82 from the last six almost entirely on his own.
Imad completely destroyed what United believed was an encouraging first ten, and the bowlers watched as he did it. The reverse sweeps off pace, the hooks, and the overhead drives were all incredibly effective.
His compassion showed near the end when he chose to finish with an unbroken 92 rather than wasting the strike in an effort to reach a hundred. But despite the fact that Imad may not have deserved to lose, not enough of his teammates have earned victories this season.