Peshawar Zalmi sailed into the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) defeating Karachi Kings by 24 runs in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Riding on Kamran Akmal’s  splendid century, Peshawar Zalmi sailed into the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) defeating Karachi Kings by 24 runs, in the third and final play-off in front of a packed Dubai International Stadium.

Peshawar will now take on Quetta Gladiator in the final at Lahore on Sunday (March 5).

Akmal, who became only the second batsman to hit a century in the PSL after Sharjeel Khan’s 117 against Peshawar in the 2016 edition, helped Peshawar post an impressive 181 for 3 in 20 overs. Akmal’s 104 came off 65 balls with six boundaries and seven sixes. 

Chasing the total, Karachi fought valiantly through Chris Gayle’s 40 off 31 balls with four sixes and two boundaries and Kieron Pollard 47 off 26 balls with four boundaries and three sixes. Peshawar bowlers led by Wahab Riaz (3 for 24) and Chris Jordan (3 for 26) restricted Karachi to 157 for 7 in 20 overs.
Karachi won the toss and opted to field. 

The match got off to an exciting start with opener Akmal hitting boundaries off the first two deliveries of the match from Mohammad Amir.

The first boundary was earned through a square drive and second by gliding the ball past Chris Gayle  who was the lone slip fielder. 

Opener Dawid Malan, too, scored two boundaries off the second and fifth ball off Imad Wasim, who bowled the second over. The pair put on 34 runs in the first five overs
In the sixth over, Akmal hit Usman Khan past mid-off for a boundary while Malan hit the first six of the match through mid-wicket.

Akmal hit Usama Mir for two consecutive sixes in the eighth over. The first six was over the bowler’s head and the next over the covers. Akmal hit his third six over long on  and reached his half century in 33 balls. 

The pair accelerated the run rate steadily and by the 10th over they put on 88 runs.
Sohail Khan ended the opening partnership by having Malan out for 36 caught by Babar Azam at long on. The pair put on 97 runs in 11.3 overs.

Century in 60 balls

Akmal continued to score briskly with Marlon Samuels too.  By the 15th over Peshawar were 126 for 1.  In the 16th over, Akmal hit Bopara two consecutive sixes over over long off and another over square leg. Samuels too pulled Sohail effortlessly for a six over mid-wicket. 
Akmal reached his 100 in 60 balls. 

His knock ended when he got run out for 104 while going for second run and when Bopara threw to bowler’s end for Amir to remove the bails. Akmal and Samuels had put on 77 runs in 7.4 overs.
Next man Shahid Afridi fell to the very first ball by lifting Amir to Babar Azam to long off.  Samuels remained unbeaten on 37. An excellent death over bowling ensured that Karachi could muster only 181 for 3 though a total of 200 looked possible.
Karachi began their chase through inform Babar Azam and the dangerous Chris Gayle.  Chris Jordan, bowling the second over, had Azam spoon an easy catch to Wahab Riaz at mid-on for 1. Sangakkara joined Gayle and hit Mohammad Hafeez for a towering six over mid-on. Wahab Riaz got Sangakkara out top eding to Samuels at point for 15 off 13 balls. Shoaib Malek fell for a first ball duck hitting Jordan to Hafeez at mid-on who took a diving catch to his left. Three down for 19 off 5.1 overs,  Gayle hit Afridi for a six over deep square leg but Hafeez had next man Bopara stumped by Akmal for 6.
Kireon Pollard joined Gayle who began to open out. He hit Afridi for two consecutive sixes through mid wicket. 


Halfway mark


At the half way mark, Karachi scored 59 for 4. Pollard drove Darren Sammy so powerfully that it burst through Afridi’s hand,  splitting his webbing and forcing a bleeding Afridi to leave the field.  Gayle hit his fourth sixth lifting Sammy over long on.
At the score on 80, Riaz provided the vital breakthrough by clean bowling Gayle for 40 with a toe crushing yorker.  Pollard hit Mohammad Asghar for two sixes in the 13th over and Karachi needed 84 runs from 42 balls. Imad Wasim too hit a six off Hasan Ali over long off.
With 58 runs needed in the last five overs, Wahab Riaz bowled a tight 16th over giving away just seven runs. Hasan Ali too gave away only  six runs in the 17th over,  making Karachi’s task tougher. 

They needed 45 runs the last 18 balls and Riaz had Pollard caught behind for 47 to end Karachi’s fight.



Brief scores:

Peshawar Zalmi bt Karachi Kings by 24 runs.
Peshawar Zalmi  181 for 3 in 20 overs (Kamran Akmal 104, Dawid Malan 36, Marlon Samuels 37)
Karachi Kings 157 for 7 in 20 overs  (Chris Gayle 40, Kieron Pollard, Chris Jordan 3 for 26, Wahab Riaz 3 for 24)

Man of the match: Kamran Akmal