Islamabad's Alex Hales steers his team past Karachi Kings Image Credit: PCB

Dubai: England’s Alex Hales steered Islamabad United past Karachi Kings by four wickets in the Eliminator 1 of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). Hales, through a 42-ball 41, had set the momentum for a successful chase.

Karachi had posted 161-9 in 20 overs with Babar Azam top scoring with 42 and in-form Colin Munro chipping in with 32 and Liam Livingstone 30.

The two-time winners Islamabad’s chance of reaching the final depends on beating Peshawar Zalmi in the Eliminator 2. Quetta Gladiators have already qualified for the final to be held on March 17.

This is the fourth time that Karachi, the team who had the huge backing of fans that thronged the stadium, have been unable to go past the play-off stage.

Islamabad needed 18 runs off the last two overs and six runs in the last over, Islamabad got four leg byes off Mohammad Amir to reach the target.

Karachi paid the price for wasting a brisk start of 61 runs in five overs as they went on to lose eight wickets off 58 balls for 59 runs to crash from 102-1 to 161-9 in their 20 overs.

Asif Ali’s unbeaten 24 off just 10 balls with two sixes and a four played a vital role in Islamabad’s triumph. He had escaped being caught off the first ball of Amir Yamin’s penultimate over. Faheem Ashraf speeded up the race to the target scoring 17 runs off eight balls.

Islamabad had lost opener Luke Ronchi for five runs before Cameroon Delport and Hales added 44 for the second-wicket. Delport made a 27-ball 38 runs with two sixes and four boundaries.

Speaking about his innings that won him the man of the match award in the first match he played in this PSL after his international commitments with England team, Hales said: “It was a tricky chase. I thought that it was a belter of a wicket but it slowed down, Umer bowled very well. I knew that we have Hussain and Asif so they could take us to the win.”

Islamabad captain Mohammad Sami feels that his bowlers won the match. “They were running away but our bowlers put them back and that became the turning point,” he said. “Chase is always difficult but all the players showed character and contributed.”

Karachi skipper Imad Wasim attributed the team’s defeat to their poor bowling in the final overs. “We were 20-30 runs short and the difference was in both teams’ death bowling. I think their bowlers bowled very well and pulled us back.”

Karachi had won the toss and had opted to bat. This was only second time in 32 matches in this PSL that a team batted first after winning the toss. Karachi had batted against Multan Sultans in Dubai after winning the toss.

Brief scores

■ Islamabad United bt Karachi Kings by four wickets

■ Karachi Kings 161-9 in 20 overs (Babar 42, Munro 32, Livingstone 30; Musa 3-42)

■ Islamabad United 164-6 in 19.3 overs (Hales 41, Delport 38; Umer 2-16)