Kolkata: Multan Sultans, short on star power, set themselves up with a chance to win their first Pakistan Super League (PSL) title as they made their maiden final by upsetting Islamabad United by 31 runs in the first Qualifier on Monday.
Islamabad, two-time champions, still have a chance to make the final as they take on Peshawar Zalmi in the second Qualifier in Abu Dhabi later on Tuesday. Zalmi had dethroned Karachi Kings in the Eliminator in Monday’s late game by five wickets. Multan will square off against the winner of the second Eliminator for the title on Thursday.
Sohaib Maqsood’s 59, which included some audacious strokeplay on the offside, and Khushdil Shah’s 42 off 22 balls spurred Multan to a healthy total of 180 for five wickets after captain Mohammad Rizwan was dismissed without scoring.
Islamabad, the table toppers who notched the highest total in the league the other day with 247 for two, fell against the guile of senior pro Sohail Tanvir (3-17) and Zimbabwe swing bowler Blessing Muzarabani (3-31) and were bowled out for 149 with an over to spare during the chase.
Left-arm seamer Tanvir knocked back the middle stump of the in-form Kiwi opener Colin Munro for a duck off his second delivery and returned to get the key wicket of Usman Khawaja, who threatened to take the game away from Multan with a scintillating knock of 70 off 40 balls.
Khawaja, the out-of-favour Australian opener, had been in an imperious form in the Abu Dhabi leg and completed his half-century off 33 balls when he smashed Muzarabani for a six and three consecutive boundaries in the 14th over. Tanvir returned in the next over and Shah hung onto a well judged catch at deep midwicket to dismiss Khawaja to set back Islamabad hopes.
In the late game, Peshawar Zalmi dethroned Karachi Kings by five wickets with one ball spare in Eliminator 1 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Babar Azam's 50 in vain
Two dropped catches of Sherfane Rutherford on the first and penultimate balls by Danish Aziza and Thisara Perera in Mohammad Ilyas’ last over saw Peshawar Zalmi get seven runs and cross the line.
Player of the Match Hazratullah Zazai’s whirlwind 77 set the tone for Zalmi’s successful chase of 176. The Afghanistan opener smashed 10 fours and spanked five sixes in 38 balls and stitched an opening partnership of 49 with Kamran Akmal (13 off 12) and then added 43 more runs with Imam-ul-Haq (11 off 17). Earlier, Zalmi pacers Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan and Umaid Asif struck with two wickets each as Karachi were restricted to 175 for seven.
Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, continued his rich vein of form ahead of the England tour when he scored his seventh half-century (53) of the edition after Wahab decided to bowl after winning the toss. However, Karachi kept on losing wickets at regular intervals after Sharjeel Khan (26 off 20) was dismissed in the sixth over and Babar struggled to find the desired support from the other end.