Helped by Usman Shinwari's brilliant death bowling and Islamabad United resting their key players, Karachi Kings defeated the capital city side by seven wickets in the final match of the group stage of the Pakistan Super League 2018 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday.
With that victory, the Kings qualified for the PSL 2018 play-offs and ended expansion franchise Multan Sultans' hopes of going through.
The game was of little importance to Islamabad as they had already qualified for the play-offs as the top team of the group stages. The Kings and Multan Sultans hopes, however, depended on which way the game went.
The equation for the Kings was simple: win and go through. A defeat would've meant that it all came down to how their run rate compared with the Sultans'.
United rested in-form trio of Luke Ronchi, Samit Patel and Mohammad Sami, whereas the Kings were without their concussed captain Imad Wasim, who had been advised rest.
Stand-in Karachi captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and opted to field first.
United had no real motivation to win this one and it showed at the start of their innings. Both their openers departed early and they had just 22 runs on the board at the end of 5 overs.
Usman Shinwari, who was excellent for Karachi in their last game, dismissed JP Duminy, whereas Alex Hales fell prey to Mohammad Irfan Jr.
Such has been the form of United's top-order batsmen that Misbahul Haq hasn't had a look in. This time though, he promoted himself up the order and stabilised the ship. He was, however, dismissed in the 9th over by his fellow ex-Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.
Hussain Talat, who had been excellent in PSL 2018 thus far, followed Misbah back into the dugout in the 10th — at the end of which United were 62-4. Karachi's chances of qualifying for the play-offs were very bright at that juncture.
Afridi struck again in his next over, this time bowling out the dangerous looking Chadwick Walton.
Overshadowed by his international teammates, Asif Ali had flown under the radar in PSL 2018. But he, if only for a little while, took centre stage, hitting four sixes in his 14-ball 34 before Tymal Mills grabbed his wicket.
Shinwari, for the second straight game, was the Kings' best bowler. He finished with figures of 4-17 in 4 overs.
Like the last game, he was again excellent at the death, with three of his quartet of wickets coming in the final five overs. Islamabad were bundled out for just 124 runs.
With such a small target to chase, there was little pressure on Kings openers. Khurram Manzoor departed in the fourth over but Joe Denly continued on.
By the end of 5 overs, the port city side were 42-1 and set to join Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta in the play-offs at the expense of Multan.
Denly and Eoin Morgan were dismissed in 8th and 9th overs as Karachi were given a slight scare.
But there just weren't enough runs on the board for United to make a match out of this. In the end, the Kings reached their target with seven wickets and 18 balls to spare.
Shinwari was named the man of the match for his four-wicket haul.
Karachi XI: Khurram Manzoor, JL Denly, Babar Azam, CA Ingram, EJG Morgan, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, TS Mills, Usman Khan, Mohammad Irfan
Islamabad XI: JP Duminy, CAK Walton, AD Hales, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Zafar Gohar, Amad Butt, ST Finn