West Indies’ Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy held his nerve with the ball, conceding just nine runs off the final over to guide his team Peshawar Zalmi to a thrilling three-run victory against Karachi Kings in Sharjah.
After 39 overs of a contest that swung one way and then another, the equation was that Karachi needed 13 runs off six balls; Peshawar needed three wickets to secure the win and go top of the table. Sammy bowled full and wide first ball, and Ravi Bopara, who had almost single-handedly brought Karachi back into the game, whacked a six over the cover-point boundary. Bopara then helped himself to a two next ball. Five needed off four balls, with Karachi holding the edge.
Bopara could have sealed a famous win off the next ball, but sent Sammy’s full toss straight down the throat of long on. Peshawar were lifted, and Usama Mir could only manage a single off the fourth delivery. Karachi knew they had to run for anything, and their sneaky attempt at stealing a bye off the fifth ball was unsuccessful, as Mir was run out. That left Mohammad Amir, the new man in, with the unenviable task of hitting four off the last ball. After a huge discussion between Sammy and his captain Shahid Afridi, Sammy ran in to bowl the final ball from around the wicket. His wide yorker was not accurate, but Amir failed to get any bat on it, and the Peshawar players broke into wild celebrations.
A close finish was the last thing on everyone’s mind, especially Peshawar’s, when they reduced Karachi to 48 for 5 in a tough chase of 183. However, Bopara inspired a turnaround, blasting five fours and four sixes during a 33-ball 67 which threatened to take the game away from Peshawar. Bopara put up fifty-plus stands with James Vince and Sohail Tanvir, but unfortunately for Karachi, fell right when his team needed him the most.
Mohammad Hafeez blasted his first fifty of the season to power Peshawar to 182 for 4. Peshawar, opting to bat, began on the front foot, as Hafeez and Tamim Iqbal put up an opening stand of 93, before late blitzes from Sammy and Afridi lifted the team past the 180-run mark. Hafeez slammed seven fours and three sixes during his 59.