Pollard's powerhouse performance propels Karachi Kings to win over Peshawar Zalmi

Karachi Kings registered their inaugural victory of the HBL PSL 9, defeating Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets here at sparsely populated Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.  

The Kings' victory was spearheaded by the dynamic duo of Hasan Ali and Mir Hamza, who collectively dismantled the Zalmi batting lineup, taking three wickets each and restricting them to a total of 154 runs. 

Opting to field first, the Kings were off to a flying start, thanks to Shoaib Malik, who claimed a wicket in the opening over, sending Saim Ayub back to the pavilion without scoring. Meanwhile, Babar Azam etched his name in the record books by becoming the youngest and fastest batter to amass 10,000 T20 runs, achieving this milestone in just 271 innings during the match. 

Despite an early setback, Zalmi attempted a counter-attack, but their efforts were thwarted by a series of precise bowling and fielding efforts from the Kings. Mohammad Haris, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, and later Rovman Powell, fell in quick succession, with Powell's departure ending a crucial 68-run partnership with Babar Azam. Babar's valiant 72 off 51 balls couldn't steer Zalmi to a substantial total, as Hasan Ali's lethal bowling in the final over capped their innings at 154. 

Mir Hamza, with his economical spell of 3-28, was rightfully named player of the match, backed by Hasan Ali's equally impressive 3 wickets for 30. Contributions also came from Daniel Sams and others, setting the stage for Karachi's chase. 

Karachi Kings' response was assertive right from the outset, with openers Shan and Muhammad Akhlaq putting up a brisk 20 runs in the first two overs. Despite losing both openers early, James Vince and Shoaib Malik steadied the ship with a crucial 51-run partnership. However, it was Kieron Pollard's explosive innings that turned the game on its head. Pollard unleashed an onslaught, hammering 49 runs off just 21 balls, including four boundaries and an equal number of sixes, effectively sealing the win for his team. 

James Vince played a supportive role, ending with an unbeaten 38 off 30 balls, as the Kings chased down the target with 19 balls to spare, finishing at 157-3. Luke Wood and Waqar Salamkheil managed to claim wickets for Zalmi, but it was Pollard's day as his heroic knock ensured a convincing victory for Karachi Kings. Up next in the PSL 9, the Quetta Gladiators will face Islamabad United at the same venue tomorrow (Thursday) at 7:00 pm. 

SCORES IN BRIEF 

KARACHI KINGS 157-3, 16.5 overs (Kieron Pollard 49*, James Vince 38*) beat PESHAWAR ZALMI 154 all out, 19.5 overs (Babar Azam 72, Rovman Powell 39; Mir Hamza 3-28, Hasan Ali 3-30, Daniel Sams 2-28) by 7 wickets.

Azhar Khan is an accomplished senior sports journalist with extensive experience in the field. He can be reached at azharmasood786@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @azharmasood786

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