PSL3: Play-off contenders finalized
How Peshawar qualified
In the last round of the group stages it was a must win for both Zalmi and the Kings.Multan, after losing to Islamabad were hoping for a slip by any of the two sides which would see them through into the play offs in there maiden appearance in the Tournament.
It started by McCullum winning the toss and electing to bat on a good batting surface in Sharjah. Things started well for Zalmi as Hassan and Sameen were successful in sending the fierce duo of Fakhar and McCullum back to the pavilion early in the game. But then it was all Devcich and Lahore managed to score around eight per over in the power play. His inning including two fours and seven sixes and especially targeted pacers. Sameen dropped him in the start of the fourteenth over but fortunately just three balls later the professor did not repeat the mistake. Boundaries continued to flow for the Qalandars as Gulraiz and Sohail Akhtar chipped in with useful knocks as Lahore amassed 52 runs in the last five overs.
With a mighty target of 172 runs to chase the men from Peshawar were off to a flyer as they scored twenty runs of the first over. But this was short-lived as Abbot struck of his first ball to give an early blow to Peshawar’s play-off hopes. However, it then turned into the Smith and Kamran Show in which Pacers and spinners were hit alike,as they managed to get 57-1 in the powerplay.
When it was all looking quite easy for Peshawar, Yasir bowled a beauty to get rid of Smith and brought the Lahore back into the Game. In came the seasoned Hafeez, who played a supportive role while Kamran Akmal played a scintillating knock of 107 runs off just 61 balls comprising of eleven fours and seven huge sixes. It wasa brilliant display of power hitting, scoring all around the ground. Lahore did manage to get a late break by getting Hafeez’s wicket but the damage had been done,as shown in the way Saad Naeem wrapped up the innings. Peshawar Zalmi showed their Intention for this season by making the highest successful chase of PSL 3 with 2 overs to spare.
How Karachi qualified
With Islamabad,Quetta and Peshawar already through to the play offs it was Karachi up against Islamabad; a team on a six match winning streak. The stakes could not have been higher as a win meant second position and a loss could have earned them a ticket back home. The Sultans who still had fair chances of survival in the tournament were mere spectators again.
Morgan who in the absence of Imad was leading the team won the toss and elected to bowl first.The decision paid off as Duminy was forced to go back early by the young Usman Khan Shinwari, getting Karachi off to a dream start in the all-important decider. Kings pacers restricted the men of the Capital to 31-2 in the opening six overs.It was another great day for the fan favorite Afridi who got the two important scalps of Misbah and Walton to become the first Pakistani to reach 300 wickets in this format of the game.United were provided with a glimpse of hope when Asif Ali came to bat and hit four huge sixes before being beaten by a beautiful delivery from Tymal Mills. Shinwari took three more wickets in his second spell to restrict Islamabad to a modest score of 124.
Karachi needing merely 109 runs to qualify did the job in style.Ingram, Babar and Denly all played sensible innings and ensured that Karachi was over the line three overs before the allocated twenty.This ensured Karachi’s inclusion in the playoffs for the third year running.
The final day of the group stages turned the PSL table upside down. Peshawar, the biggest gainers, first jumped from relegation to third.Karachi who started the tournament as favorites, showed their class late and now have a shot at the final in their own city. Zalmi and Kings’ wins were Multan’s loss as they crashed out of the tournament after having had an impressive start to the campaign. This speaks volumes about the level of competitiveness in the Pakistan Super League.
Karachi and Islamabad will face off in the first qualifier on Sunday in Dubai.