SHARJAH – When Karachi Kings put their side together at the player draft for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) they packed their side with all-rounders.
Did they know they would only need one, as long as his name was Ravi Bopara?
Bopara was their man of the moment again on Friday in Sharjah, as an astonishing all-round performance sealed a simple 27-run win over Lahore Qalandars, and a double in what is, traditionally, the prickliest city rivalry in the country.
Bopara first made a 43-ball 71, his second successive half century, before taking 6-14 to cripple a chase – of 179 – that had begun with a fair degree of confidence.
It was only the third time in the history of all T20 cricket that a player scored a fifty and took six wickets: one of the other players to do it is Shakib Al Hasan, Bopara’s teammate in this league.
In reply to the 178-5 posted by Kings, the Qalandars were restricted to 151-8 in 20 overs.
Bopara’s 67 on Thursday evening had almost sealed a remarkable win over Peshawar Zalmi; his 71 was a more calculated affair, which looked halfway through the match to have taken Karachi to a reasonable total, rather than a daunting one.
It was also fortunate in that he was dropped once.
Lahore, in fact, were abysmal in the field, shelling a barely-believable eight catches.
There is not supposed to be enough time in a 20-over innings to do that.
When he came on to bowl, he struck gold with his first ball; Lahore had just lost Cameron Delport off the last ball of the previous over, ending a confident opening stand of 98.
At that stage, the start of the 12th over and with Chris Gayle still in, Lahore should have cruised it.
But Bopara induced a Gayle top-edge and then, three balls, later, dismissed Dwayne Bravo as well to put the brakes on.
That sparked a massive collapse – Lahore losing eight for 53 and Bopara to the fore.
Four overs later, he was on a hat-trick, dismissing M Rizwan and Hammad Azam off successive deliveries.
He was denied, but not for long, taking another wicket off the next ball.
By the time he dismissed Umar Akmal in his last over, the game was over and the only interest was in whether he could take another off his last four deliveries to become the first man to take seven wickets in the format.
He could not, but it hardly mattered.
Bopara is now both the tournament’s leading run-scorer and wicket-taker: grant him the keys to the city, or at least honorary citizenship.
Qalandars opening batsmen Chris Gayle (37) and Cameron Delport (55) provided a solid 98-run stand for the first wicket, but were not backed by the batsmen coming down the order.
Delport’s departure saw a procession of wickets as Bopara took the steam out of the Lahore chase.
Earlier, Kings’ opener Nauman Anwar finally came good as he scored 35 off 25 with two fours and three sixes to give his side a solid start.
Anwar was gifted several chances by the Qalandars side who were being led by Bravo.
Left-arm spinners Zohaib Khan and Zafar Gohar were the pick of the bowlers for Qalandars picking up two wickets each in the run-fest, whereas Kevon Cooper took one.
Nauman Anwar c Akmal b Zohaib 35
Shoaib Malik c Delport b Zafar 27
J Vince c Bravo b Zohaib 7
R Bopara not out 71
Shakib Al Hasan c Bravo b Zafar 9
Imad Wasim c Delport b Cooper 11
Mushfiqur Rahim not out 10
EXTRAS: (lb1, w6, nb1) 8
TOTAL: (5 wkts; 20 overs) 178
FOW: 1-54, 2-62, 3-95, 4-109, 5-139
BOWLING: Ehsan Adil 4-0-32-0, D Bravo 4-0-47-0, K Cooper 4-0-28-1, Zohaib Khan 4-0-35-2, Zafar Gohar 3-0-26-2, C Delport 1-0-9-0
C Gayle c Mushfiqur b Bopara 37
C Delport st Mushfiqur b Usama 55
Umar Akmal c Shakib b Bopara 19
D Bravo c Hamza b Bopara 0
M Rizwan b Bopara 12
Hammad Azam lbw b Bopara 0
Naved Yasin c Malik b Bopara 0
K Cooper not out 10
Zafar Gohar b Sohail 1
Zohaib Khan not out 10
EXTRAS: (w7) 7
TOTAL: (8 wkts; 20 overs) 151
FOW: 1-98, 2-98, 3-99, 4-122, 5-122, 6-122, 7-132, 8-134
BOWLING: Shoaib Malik 4-0-25-0, Sohail Khan 4-0-30-1, Sohail Tanvir 3-0-30-0, Usama Mir 4-0-33-1, Mir Hamza 1-0-17-0, R Bopara 4-0-16-6
TOSS: Lahore Qalandars
MAN OF MATCH: R Bopara
UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (Pak), J Wilson (WI)
TV UMPIRE: Shozab Raza (Pak)
MATCH REFEREE: M Anees (Pak)