Karachi: One of the world's leading batsman, Babar Azam knocked a commanding half century to help the Karachi Kings win their first Pakistan Super League title with a five-wicket win over the Lahore Qalandars on Tuesday.
Azam smashed seven boundaries in his 49-ball 63, but it was skipper Imad Wasim who hit the winning boundary to help the Kings overhaul a modest 135-run target in 18.4 overs.
The final – one of the most anticipated in the PSL's short history, given the rivalry between Pakistan's two biggest cities – failed to live up to the hype as Lahore managed just 134-7 after winning the toss and batting on a flat National Stadium pitch.
With Azam, the world number two batsman in Twenty20 international rankings, on Karachi's side it proved an easy chase, despite losing three wickets from 110-2 to 124-5.
The Kings will take home a glittering trophy plus a $500,000 purse, while Lahore received $200,000.
The fifth edition of Pakistan's inaugural Twenty20 league started on 20 February, but was abandoned after 30 of its 34 matches after England player Alex Hales, playing for Kings, reported symptoms of COVID-19.
It resumed on Saturday behind closed doors, with the Kings beating the Multan Sultans in the qualifier while Lahore downed Peshawar Zalmi and the Sultans in two eliminators to book a place in the final.
Lahore lost their way after a confident 68-run start in ten overs, provided by Bangladeshi opener Tamim Iqbal (35) and Fakhar Zaman (27).
They lost both of them and Mohammad Hafeez in the space of seven deliveries with the addition of just two runs, spoiling a solid start.
Iqbal struck four boundaries and a six off 38 balls while Zaman had four boundaries in his 24-ball stay.
Karachi pace trio Umaid Asif (2-18), Waqas Maqsood (2-18) and Arshad Iqbal (2-26) bowled nagging line and length to keep the flow of runs down as well as taking wickets.
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Trent Woodhill, the BBL's player acquisition and cricket consultant, said the best T20 leagues in the world are the ones that innovate, push the boundaries and challenge the status quo.
Babar Azam replaced Azhar Ali as Test captain, just one year after PCB appointed the senior batsman to lead the Test side in place of Sarfaraz Ahmed.
The PCB said both 38-year-old Malik and 28-year-old Amir were left out as the selectors prefer youth over them.