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DUBAI: Karachi Kings’ batsman Joe Denly plays a shot as Islamabad United wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi looks on during the first playoff of the Pakistan Super League at Dubai Cricket Stadium on Sunday.—Courtesy PCB
DUBAI: Karachi Kings’ batsman Joe Denly plays a shot as Islamabad United wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi looks on during the first playoff of the Pakistan Super League at Dubai Cricket Stadium on Sunday.—Courtesy PCB

DUBAI: Luke Ronchi set the Dubai Stadium alight on Sunday with a sizzling array of strokes as Islamabad United decimated Karachi Kings in the first qualifier to storm into the HBL Pakistan Super League final.

Ronchi, a New Zealander, electrified the crowd by smashing 94 from only 39 deliveries, spearheading Islamabad’s march to the final after Karachi had compiled 154-4 upon winning the toss. The result was never in doubt once Ronchi thrashed 12 boundaries and five sixes as Islamabad wrapped up the game with as many as 45 deliveries to spare when Samit Patel drove Usman Khan Shinwari to the fence.

The qualifier never lived up to its billing and turned out to be a disappointment for fans in Karachi as they had hoped that their side would qualify for the final at National Stadium straightaway.

Karachi now head to Lahore to play the second eliminator against winners of Tuesday’s first eliminator between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators. The second eliminator will be played on Wednesday.

In an absolutely one-sided affair, the cricketing kings of Karachi were reduced to paupers by the ferocity of Ronchi’s bat as the wicket-keeper/batsman cut loose from the word go. He rocketed to his half century off just 19 balls _ the fastest in PSL history and breaking his own record set twice in this edition.

Islamabad’s dominance can be gauged by the stark difference in the six-over power play segment. While Karachi mustered 29-2, the franchise from the federal capital built a massive 46-run advantage by amassing 75 without loss.

Earlier, Karachi recovered from a shaky 17-2, after Mohammad Sami (2-20) saw off Khurram Manzoor (6) and Babar Azam (0) in three balls, to reach a respectable, albeit below par, total. Joe Denly (51 off 46 balls, four fours and one six) and Colin Ingram (68 off 39 balls, six sixes and one four) lifted their teammates’ spirits with lusty strokeplay.

Scores in brief:

KARACHI KINGS 154-4 in 20 overs (C.A. Ingram 68 not out, J.L. Denly 51, E.J.G. Morgan 21; Mohammad Sami 2-20); ISLAMABAD UNITED 155-2 in 12.3 overs (L. Ronchi 94 not out, Sahibzada Farhan 29).

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2018