SHARJEEL Khan of Karachi Kings hits a boundary while Islamabad United’s wicketkeeper Phil Salt looks on.—AP
SHARJEEL Khan of Karachi Kings hits a boundary while Islamabad United’s wicketkeeper Phil Salt looks on.—AP

KARACHI: Karachi Kings sneaked into the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 semi-finals by eliminating the two-time former champions Islamabad United from the tournament with a four-wicket win here at an overly-quiet National Stadium on Saturday.

Karachi not only firmly shut the doors on United — who had won the inaugural PSL in 2016 at Dubai and replicated that achievement at this very ground two years ago — but also booked themselves a second-placed spot in Tuesday’s second semi-finals in Lahore.

Chasing a somewhat moderate target of 137, Karachi Kings got over the line with four balls to spare when Umaid Asif slammed Rumman Raees Khan to the mid-off fence. Karachi’s fifth triumph carried their tally of points to 11, while Islamabad bowed out after crashing to a sixth defeat from 10 fixtures.

Once again played behind closed doors, Kings hardly allowed United the liberty to free their arms from the onset. Shadab Khan reckoned at the toss he would have batted anyway if the toss went his way. But probably the young skipper didn’t expect United to muster 136-6 — the lowest total recorded in PSL V during a completed innings at this venue since Quetta Gladiators made 148-5 in another losing cause against Peshawar Zalmi exactly three weeks ago.

This is where Islamabad sorely missed the power-hitting element that the likes of Luke Ronchi and his fellow New Zealander, Colin Munro, would have surely provided had they not opted to skip the rest of the tournament on Friday.

Phil Salt — the forced induction in the wake of exodus who never managed to break into the XI in the previous nine games for Islamabad United — looked in decent touch despite playing after spending six weeks on the sidelines. The 28-year-old right-hander struck the solitary six of the innings by hoisting Kings captain Imad Wasim over the long-on boundary.

But upon reaching 25 off 19 deliveries, Salt was dismissed by Imad to leave Islamabad United struggling at 59-2. Earlier on Rizwan Hussain played and missed until his luck ran out against seamer Umaid Asif with the left-hander scoring a 14-ball 17.

Karachi Kings, in response, launched their chase in the most belligerent imaginable fashion when Sharjeel Khan top-edged the first delivery from Mohammad Musa Khan over the fine leg fence and struck two fours from four balls before finishing an eventful over by pulling the young paceman for another six.

Sharjeel, who collected his second man-of-the-match award across three nights, then repeated the dose by depositing slow left-armer Zafar Gohar for consecutive leg-side sixes but found himself trapped LBW for a 14-ball cameo of 37 to young left-arm seamer Akif Javed. His dismissal didn’t matter as Karachi had ratted 60 after five overs.

However, the next lot of five overs saw a miserly 15 runs scored, while Musa, who had gone for 20 in his opening over, forced Babar Azam (19 off 20 balls, three fours) to play onto his stumps before ending his four-over stint with creditable figures of 1-24 despite taking a fearful blow on his ankle.

Zafar also completed his quota in style by conceding just five runs after being carted for 15 in the first over to end up with 1-20.

The sudden slackening of scoring pattern during Karachi’s chase after the blazing start would have surely cast doubts in relevant quarters, if Islamabad United had won and earned an unlikely lifeline heading towards Sunday’s last two league-round matches.

Current standings

(Tabulated under played, won, lost, tied, no-result, points, net run-run-rate):
Multan Sultans 9 6 1 0 2 14 +1.307
Karachi Kings 9 5 3 0 1 11 +0.014
Peshawar Zalmi 10 4 5 0 1 9 -0.055
Lahore Qalandars 9 4 5 0 0 8 -0.127
Islamabad United 10 3 6 0 1 7 +0.185
Quetta Gladiators 9 3 5 0 1 7 -1.052

Scoreboard

ISLAMABAD UNITED:
Rizwan Hussain c Walton b Umaid 17
P.D. Salt c Jordan b Imad 25
Hussain Talat c Delport b Iftikhar 37
Shadab Khan c Iftikhar b Arshad 12
C.A. Ingram run out 14
Asif Ali c Usama b Jordan 2
Faheem Ashraf not out 12
Zafar Gohar not out 13

EXTRAS (W-3, NB-1) 4
TOTAL (for six wkts, 20 overs) 136
FALL OF WKTS: 1-35, 2-59, 3-79, 4-97, 5-100, 6-116.
DID NOT BAT: Rumman Raees Khan, Mohammad Musa Khan, Akif Javed.
BOWLING: Mohammad Amir 4-0-28-0 (2w); Umaid Asif 2-0-14-1; Jordan 4-0-28-1 (1w); Imad Wasim 3-0-23-1; Usama Mir 2-0-18-0; Arshad Iqbal 2-0-13-1 (1nb); Iftikhar Ahmed 3-0-12-1.

KARACHI KINGS:
Sharjeel Khan lbw b Akif 37
Babar Azam b Musa 19
C.S. Delport b Shadab 11
Imad Wasim c Salt b Zafar 26
Iftikhar Ahmed c Akif b Shadab 1
C.A.K. Walton c Hussain Talat b Rumman 11
C.J. Jordan not out 6
Umaid Asif not out 13

EXTRAS (B-2, LB-5, W-6) 13
TOTAL (for six wkts, 19.2 overs) 137
FALL OF WKTS: 1-60, 2-60, 3-90, 4-104, 5-106, 6-118.
DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Amir, Usama Mir, Arshad Iqbal.
BOWLING: Mohammad Musa Khan 4-1-24-1; Zafar Gohar 4-0-20-1; Akif Javed 3-0-20-0 (4w); Rumman Raees Khan 3-2-0-31-1; Faheem Ashraf 1-0-7-0; Shadab Khan 4-0-28-2 (2w).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Sharjeel Khan (Karachi Kings).

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2020