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KARACHI: Asif Ali of Islamabad United hits a boundary during a match against Karachi Kings at the National Stadium on Thursday.—Tahir Jamal / White Star
KARACHI: Asif Ali of Islamabad United hits a boundary during a match against Karachi Kings at the National Stadium on Thursday.—Tahir Jamal / White Star

KARACHI: Islamabad United kept their title defence alive in the HBL Pakistan Super League after ruining Karachi Kings’ aspirations of an extended hometown party by sealing a four-wicket victory in the Eliminator 1 clash at National Stadium here on Thursday night.

Islamabad United will now take on Peshawar Zalmi in Friday’s Eliminator 2 game to determine who will face Quetta Gladiators in the final.

The United again provided glimpses of their uncanny ability to win crucial moments by restricting the Kings to 161-9 after they were cruising along at 100-1 at the midpoint of their innings. For only the second time in this PSL edition, Kings opted to bat after winning the toss.

The chase was anchored by Alex Hales, ably supported by Cameron Delport, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali and Faheem Ashraf.

Hales made an immediate impact by marking his belated appearance in the tournament with a measured knock of 41. He was named the man-of-the-match.

The right-hander, who played for England in the recent one-day series in the West Indies, held the innings together until he was fourth man to be dismissed after striking five fours and one six during his 42-ball stay.

The left-handed Delport maintained his good touch in another vital contribution as he and Hales came together to put on 44 after Luke Ronchi holed out to Babar Azam at long-on for only five.

Delport kept the scoreboard moving at a brisk rate to hammer 38 from 27 deliveries, sending the ball four times to the fence and over it once.

Babar then took the second of his record four catches as Delport tried to strike big, but only to be fooled by teenaged Umar Khan.

The slow left-armer, who finished his maiden PSL with 15 wickets in 11 matches, grabbed another wicket soon after as Chadwick Walton edged a simple chance to wicket-keeper Ben Dunk for a second-ball duck.

Hussain Talat, who slammed 32 off 19 balls (three sixes and one four), eased the tension to a large extent in the dugout as he helped Hales put on 51 for the fourth wicket.

Asif Ali then joined the party to bludgeon two sixes and one four, making 24 off just 10 balls and dumping the Kings by gliding Mohammad Amir for the winning runs after the last over began with six still to get.

Faheem played his part well with two fours and one six in an eight-ball cameo of 17.

Earlier, the Kings wasted a golden opportunity of putting the match beyond the champions’ reach as they badly lost their way after a rollicking start. They lost eight wickets for a mere 59 runs.

Colin Munro, who had a tough time on his PSL debut, crashed six boundaries and one six in a belligerent 11-ball 32, while Babar built his innings with his signature stroke play. He scored 42 off 32 balls with the aid of four boundaries.

Fast bowler Mohammad Musa Khan grabbed three wickets and Faheem Ashraf two.

Scoreboard

KARACHI KINGS:

Babar Azam c Ronchi b Rumman 42
C. Munro c Ronchi b Musa 32
L.S. Livingstone c Faheem b Shadab 30
C.A. Ingram c Asif b Musa 23
B.R. Dunk c Hales b Faheem 12
Iftikhar Ahmed c Hussain b Musa 1
Imad Wasim not out 13
Aamir Yamin run out 1
Mohammad Amir run out 3
Umar Khan b Faheem 0
Usman Khan Shinwari 1

EXTRAS (LB-1, W-1, NB-1) 3
TOTAL (for nine wkts, 20 overs) 161
BOWLING: Mohammad Sami 4-0-32-0; Rumman Raees Khan 4-0-30-1; Faheem Ashraf 4-0-30-2 (1w); Mohammad Musa Khan 4-0-42-3 (1nb); Shadab Khan 4-0-26-1.

ISLAMABAD UNITED:

L. Ronchi c Babar b A. Yamin 5
C.S. Delport c Babar b Umar 38
A.D. Hales c Babar b A. Yamin 41
C.A.K. Walton c Dunk b Umar 0
Hussain Talat c Babar b Usman 32
Asif Ali not out 24
Faheem Ashraf c A. Yamin b Amir 17
Shadab Khan not out 0

EXTRAS (LB-7) 7
TOTAL (for six wkts, 19.3 overs) 164
BOWLING: Imad Wasim 4-0-34-0; Mohammad Amir 3.3-0-35-1 (2w); Aamir Yamin 4-0-27-2 (1w); Usman Khan Shinwari 3-0-42-1; Umar Khan 4-0-16-2 (1w); Iftikhar Ahmed 1-0-10-0 (1w).
RESULT: Islamabad United won by four wickets.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Alex Hales.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019