By Jawad Hussain
KARACHI, March 14, 2019 (SNN247.com) – A combined effort allowed the defending champions Islamabad United to a four-wicket triumph over Karachi Kings in the First Eliminator of the Pakistan Super League 2019 at National Stadium in Karachi on Thursday night.
Second Eliminator Tonight
Islamabad United will take on Peshawar Zalmi in the Second Eliminator at National Stadium in Karachi on Friday. The winner of the Second Eliminator will take on Quetta Gladiators in the title match of the Pakistan Super League 2019.
Gladiators, Zalmi, United: The Consistent Top Three PSL Teams
The match showed that the pattern stayed the same for the four editions of the Pakistan Super League where Lahore Qalandars, Karachi Kings, and Multan Sultans made way for Quetta Gladiators, Peshawar Zalmi, and Islamabad United in the PSL Playoffs. Lahore Qalandars once again finished last in the competition whereas Multan Sultans finished fifth and Karachi Kings were the fourth best team in the event.
Who Will Lift PSL-4 Title?
Now the PSL-4 battle fight has shrunk down to three teams, i.e. defending champions Islamabad United, one-time champion Peshawar Zalmi, and two-time finalists Quetta Gladiators. The Gladiators are eying their first PSL title in the third attempt. They were unlucky on the previous two occasions as their main overseas players refused to play in Pakistan. Their depleted squad proved little too weak to handle the heat in the middle of the top quality Twenty20 tournament.
However, this time around, the Quetta Gladiators have arrived in Pakistan with a full-fledged strength and they are looking ominously strong to clinch the title. They are just one victory away from achieving their maiden PSL title. They will wait for the outcome of the Second Eliminator between Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United. The title match of the Pakistan Super League 2019 will be staged at Karachi’s National Stadium on March 17, 2019.
A Combined Effort for Islamabad United
It was a very well compiled victory for Islamabad United who showed yet again how perfectly they have filled all of their bases with the right mix of talent and expertise. They possess an express fast bowler in Mohammad Musa who made his presence felt in the First Eliminator with a three-wicket haul. Vice Captain Shadab Khan was effective with his leggies yet again whereas all-rounder Faheem Ashraf and Rumman Raees were right on the money with gritty line and length to undo the extraordinary start of Karachi Kings in the all-important clash.
When it came to batting, it was Alex Hales from England who made a huge impact in his first game in the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League whereas South African import Cameron Delport was lethal during his stay in the middle. All-rounder Hussain Talat finally showed a huge improvement in his hard-hitting game with a crucial cameo in the middle stage. The run-chase was beautifully completed by the hard-hitting trio of Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, and Shadab Khan as Islamabad United reached their destination with three balls to spare.
Karachi Kings were more than impressive with the bat during the first 10 overs and more than ordinary in the final 10 overs of their innings. Babar Azam (42 runs from 32 balls – 4 fours), Colin Munro (32 runs from 11 balls – 6 fours, 1 six), Liam Livingstone (30 runs from 25 balls – 3 fours, 1 six), and Colin Ingram (23 runs from 16 balls – 2 fours, 1 six) looked brutal during their stay at the crease.
Karachi Kings were 1/100 after 10 overs and looked all set to fly past 200-run mark in the pressure-cooker-like game. However, the latter half failed to produce the goods as Ben Dunk (12 runs from 11 balls – 1 four), Iftikhar Ahmed (1 run from 2 balls), skipper Imad Wasim (13 runs from 15 balls – 1 four), and Aamer Yamin (1 run from 2 balls) all failed miserably to put up a decent enough performance. After smashing 100 runs from the first 10 overs, Karachi Kings could only manage 61 runs in the last 10 overs as they finished with 9/161 from 20 overs.
Young fast bowler Muhammad Musa was the pick of the bowlers as he grabbed three wickets for 42 runs from his four overs. Skipper Mohammad Sami (4-0-32-0) went for plenty in his four-over spell. However, Faheem Ashraf (4-0-30-2), Shadab Khan (4-0-26-1), and Rumman Raees (4-0-30-1) balanced the act, which allowed Islamabad United to claw their way back into contention.
Ronchi fails, others step up
Islamabad United needed Luke Ronchi (5 runs from 9 balls) to fire, but the New Zealander yet again failed to express himself as the bowlers worked him out and bowled to their plans in the initial overs. Cameron Delport (38 runs from 27 balls – 4 fours, 2 sixes) looked threatening as long as he was in the middle. Along with English batsman Alex Hales (41 runs from 42 balls – 5 fours, 1 six), the pair added 44 valuable runs for the second wicket. Although, West Indian batsman Chadwick Walton (Duck) posted another failure with the bat, it was the strong middle-order local talent which saved the day for the defending champions.
Alex Hales was given the role to take the game as deep as he could. Hussain Talat (32 runs from 19 balls – 1 four, 3 sixes) proved to be his perfect partner as he showed up with a huge improvement in his aggressive batting style.
Young off-spin bowler from Karachi Kings, Umer Khan was mercurial in the middle overs as he stemmed the flow of run and took key wickets of Cameron Delport and Chadwick Walton. At one stage, Islamabad United’s batsmen found no clue against the left-arm off-spinner.
The Final Onslaught by United
Islamabad United 33 runs from the last three overs when Hussain Talat departed, thereby leaving Asif Ali (24* runs from 10 balls) and Faheem Ashraf (17 runs from 8 balls – 2 fours, 1 six) with a gigantic job to finish off the game.
The duo didn’t disappoint the Islamabad United fans club as they used the long handle to a great effect to complete the run-chase with half-an-over to spare. Karachi Kings had only themselves to blame for the defeat as their inability to grasp the offered catches and failure to hit stumps on key moments allowed Islamabad United to take a firm grip over the match.
Umer Khan was the most impressive bowler for Karachi Kings as the left-arm off-spin bowler captured two scalps for just 16 runs from his four-over spell. Aamer Yamin was also impressive with his medium paced deliveries as he finished with figures of 2/27. Other bowlers failed to up the ante for Karachi Kings as Mohammad Amir (3.3-0-35-1) proved toothless without his ability to take wickets. Imad Wasim (4-0-34-0) had a bad day in the office with the ball while Usman Shinwari (3-0-42-1) continued to be an expensive option.