Cometh the hour, cometh the man Ravi Bopara once again became the “man to go” for karachi Kings as the all-rounder was brilliant with bat and destructive with the ball to clinch a must-win game for his team and brought them in the top flight of Pakistan Super League.
Friday saw a jam packed Sharjah stadium with 19,000 people filling the stadium and some 10,000 people outside to watch the holiday games and it were the lucky ones in the stadium who witnessed Twenty20 cricket at its best.
It had spills as Lahore Qalandars dropped as many as eight catches to help Karachi Kings build up a challenging 178-5 in their 20 overs and then it had thrills as Bopara triggered a big collapse in Lahore batting.
Ravi Bopara showed all-rounder abilities by registering the best bowling figures in the PSL of 6-16, three in four balls, to add to his superb half century to help Karachi Kings staged a remarkable comeback in their must-win match..
Bopara cracked 43-ball 71 in a total of 178-5 before triggering a collapse in Lahore Qalandars’s batting to give Karachi a 27-run win, as supporters of Karachi Kings lifted the atmosphere.
Lahore, also with three defeats in four games like Karachi, were cruising along nicely at 98-0 in the 11th over when Cameroon Delport was stumped off leg-spinner Usama Mir for 40-ball 55 studded with seven boundaries and three sixes.
That superb batting silenced the Karachi fans and raised a cacophony in the stands where Lahorites were sitting.
Gayle, playing after missing the last two games with back problem, hit two sixes and three boundaries but Bopara brought disaster for Lahore in the 11th over of the innings. He had Gayle caught off a skier by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rehman and then had Dwayne Bravo off the fourth ball for naught.
He then returned in his next over to have Mohammad Rizwan (12) with the third ball, Hammad Azam off the fourth and Naved Yasin with the final delivery as Lahore lost eight wickets in the space of just 36 runs to finish on 151-8 in 20 overs..
The victory is Karachi’s second in fifth game while Lahore are in fear of relegation with fourth loss in five games.
Karachi Kings were indebted by Bopara’s 43-ball 71 with four well timed sixes and three boundaries in their 178-5 after Lahore Qalandars sent them into bat on a shinning and flat Sharjah stadium pitch.
The best thing for Lahore Qalandars was that their ace opener Chris Gayle was declared fit to play as skipper Azhar Ali opted out to give the right balance to the team, handing the captaincy to Dwayne Bravo.
Karachi also shuffled their pack as groin problem forced Mohammad Amir out. Also dropped were Iftikhar Ahmed, Saifullah Bangash and Lend Simons to make way for Sohail Khan, Mir Hamza and Nauman Anwar.
Gayle and Cameroon Delport gave a solid start of 98 to Lahore before Bopara dashed theirdreams.
Karachi was lifted in the final five overs by Bopara’s lusty hitting as they added 67 in the final five overs. Bopara hit two sixes and a boundary off Dwayne Bravo’s 19th over of the innings and another 13 off the final over.
Lahore dropped as many as six catches, two by Umar Akmal on boundary and one each by Delport, Mohammad Rizwan, Kevon Cooper and Gayle.
But despite that Karachi were struggling at 111-4 in the 15th over after openers Nauman Anwar ((25-ball 35) and Shoaib Malik (27 off 25 balls with two fours and a six) gave them a confident start of 54.
James Vince (seven), Shakib Al Hasan (nine) and Imad Wasim (ten) stayed briefly to help Bopara add quick runs but it was in the final overs that Karachi Kings gained a real impetus.