Karachi Kings were crowned the champions of Pakistan Super League fifth edition, after beating Lahore Qalandars by 5 wickets in the final. It was a Babar Azam show in the final, where he made batting look so easy and finished with 63 not out, even though no other batsman managed to cross 35 on that.
Whole team dedicated the win to their deceased coach Dean Jones, who was very excited for the playoff round, but passed away less than 2 months before the final match. Dean Jones was in Mumbai, India where he was doing commentary for Indian Premier League, when he died due to cardiac arrest. 3 weeks before he passed away, Dean Jones had tweeted about all the foreign and national players being available for playoffs, which shows how excited he was for the remaining matches and was continuously in contact with the players.
Karachi Kings players had extra motivation due to him as he they gave him tribute before the playoff match against Multan Sultans match as well. Their skipper Imad Wasim and best batsman Babar Azam often talked about the things they learnt from Deano. He was no wonder a special coach, who helped Islamabad United win 2 PSL trophies as well. Even his daughter thanked Karachi Kings management in a tweet, as it must have been very special for her that the team remembered his father in their best moments.
But it was not just Dean Jones. There were some more big brains who helped Karachi Kings win the crown, like Wasim Akram, who kept his streak going, by winning another trophy in an even year. Wasim Akram won Indian Premier League with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and 2014. That was followed by PSL title with Islamabad United in 2016 and now with Karachi Kings in 2020.
There was a genius, run machine, Babar Azam, who top scored with 473 runs and has been in great form throughout the year. Saying that Babar Azam has been consistent, would be an understatement as he has scored at least 50 runs in last 6 innings, with 77 not out and 125 in last two ODIs against Zimbabwe and 82 and 51 in two T20Is against the same international team. He scored 65 and 63 not out in two playoff matches of PSL 5.
Muhammad Amir has been inconsistent lately, as he remained wicketless in both playoff matches. But still his experience was important for Karachi Kings in the super over, where he bowled some accurate Yorkers and did not give away any boundary, which helped his side reach the final for the first time. He showed that he is bowler of big match by delivering when it mattered the most.
Although many have not been talking about Arshad Iqbal, Umaid Asif and Waqas Maqsood, but these 3 bowlers delivered in the final, where Amir also failed. Lahore Qalandars were 68 for no loss after 10 overs in the final. Had these bowlers not contained Lahore Qalandars, even the target of 150 would have been difficult on that pitch. All of them shared 2 wickets each to restrict Lahore under 140, which made the chase look easy for Babar Azam.
Imad Wasim did not have stats in the tournament, which he would be proud of, as he ended with only 7 wickets in 11 matches and was not even among top 5 run scorers of Karachi Kings. But the captain also stepped up in the crunch situation. In the playoff, it was Imad Wasim who struck the boundary to tie the match. Even in final, Lahore Qalandars seemed to be coming right back in the match when Haris Rauf took wickets off 2 consecutive deliveries in the 18th over. 11 runs were required off 14 balls and pressure was mounting, as they stumbled from similar situation in the playoff against Multan. But Imad kept his cool and managed to get his team over the line.
The contribution of Alex Hales and Chadwick Walton cannot be forgotten, who assisted Babar Azam very well throughout the campaign, despite not getting any limelight, and they gave their best when needed.
On the other hand Lahore Qalandars would be very disappointed after reading the pitch wrong before the final. Even though they won the toss, their captain Sohail Akhtar could not realise it was a used wicket and scoring a big total would be a difficult task. He also ignored the due factor, which played a key role in the chase.
The fans of Karachi Kings, mostly from the biggest city of Pakistan, have been enjoying the win as they patiently waited for last 5 years, in fact they had to wait 8 months more due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they would have his tag of champions for only 3 more months.
The players draft for next PSL would be held in February now, as former champions Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators would be looking to make many changes, after failing to reach playoffs for the first time. These team retained most of the players from previous seasons in 2020, but the venues were changed from UAE to Pakistan, so their teams could not enjoy the same success.
So next PSL season is definitely going to be very entertaining, as Lahore Qalandars would be even hungrier after coming so close to the title. Multan Sultans would be angry after losing 2 playoffs in a row, after managing to top the points table after round robin stage. It will be a big challenge for Karachi Kings to defend their crown.
Many foreign players visited Pakistan for the first time in PSL 2020, and few more big names would be expected to join the league next season. It would be interesting to see which team picks new players and even more difficult decision for Karachi and Lahore would be, which players to retain.
Fans would also be keen to be back in the stadiums for next season, as they were denied entry in playoff matches due to coronavirus pandemic. The noise of crowd was missing in the final, which would have made it more interesting, giving extra motivation to the players. Hopefully things will get better and we would be treated with another amazing season of PSL after 3 months.
Writer is a sports lover, who passionately watches Cricket, Football, Tennis and especially all sports featuring Pakistan. Previously worked for 4 mainstream channels Dawn, Samaa, Dunya and 92 News in past. Currently working with GNN.