Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan legend, hoped Chris Gayle, his Karachi Kings teammate, would fire to lift the team from a winless position in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), saying the dashing left-hand batsman needed full backing.
Gayle had scores of ten, two and five in three defeats from as many games. Karachi Kings now face a must-win situation in Friday’s game against Islamabad United, the title-holders, in Sharjah.
“No one really fired today,” said Sangakkara after his team’s narrow seven-run defeat against Lahore Qalandars.
Kieron Pollard, Gayle’s West Indian teammate, also flopped with eight as Karachi Kings, set 180 to win, finished with 172 for 8.
“We just need them to come off in the next few games,” said Sangakkara, whose brilliant 45-ball 65 went in vain. “I think they are batting well, we just need to back them and support them for as long as possible.”
Karachi Kings had traded Gayle from Lahore Qalandars after the West Indian managed just 105 from the four games he managed to play last year.
Sangakkara admitted his team has been below par.
“Three losses in three games , we haven’t really played well,” he said, having seen his side lose earlier matches against Peshawar and Quetta. “Today was probably the best game we played, but unfortunately our fielding was really not up to the mark.”
Sangakkara put down Fakhar Zaman, Lahore’s top scorer, when he had made 39. Zaman went on to make 56.
“At the same time, we had the run chase covered by the 15th over,” said Sangakkara who added 101 for the third wicket with Shoaib Malik, who made 39. But both fell in the space of three runs, as Lahore turned the tables in the last five overs.
“We had wickets in hand. We had the ideal batsmen in there. I thought Lahore fielded really well and probably that made a huge difference. They stopped about 10 to 15 runs in the outfield.”
Sangakkar admitted his team has not lived up to the pre-tournament tag of “favourites”.
“Well, it is T20 cricket, always tough competition. It doesn’t matter what side you have, you need to really execute yours skills well. Today was not to be. The pressure is on, it is always on, and now is the time for everyone to deliver.
“We have a great side, with Gayle right at the top. We just need to make decisions a bit better. For us as a team, everyone has put in a hard effort today but unfortunately we ended up on the losing side.
“We have lost three, and we need to keep going and try and win.”
Asked if Malik was to blame for not finishing the game, Sangakkara said: “Every batsman staying on helps. That is the way T20 goes. You have got to take risks. I thought Shoaib batted brilliantly. We just need to put the finishing touches – 11 runs an over on a small boundary, with the batsmen we had, we probably should have got it.”