Peshawar Zalmi 214 for 5 (Kamran 74, Imam 58, Pollard 37, Sammy 30*, Delport 2-24) beat Islamabad United 166 for 9 (Walton 48, Faheem 31, Delport 28, Jordan 3-26, Hasan Ali 3-29) by 48 runs
How the game played out
It was a game that really mattered, as things as trivial as cricket matches do on a day like this. Followed by a minute of silence – impeccably observed – at Karachi’s National Stadium to mark the terror attacks in Christchurch, Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United, sporting black armbands, took the field in their knockout fixture. By the end of it, defending champions Islamabad were well and truly trumped by a clinical Peshawar, who, with their 48-run win, also avenged their loss to Islamabad in last season’s PSL final and reached the trophy match for the third successive year.
The platform for the win was set up by a sizzling 135-run opening stand between Imam-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal, put up in just 12.2 overs. It was an onslaught right from the moment Kamran caressed the first ball of the innings for a boundary past point. The batsmen barely seemed to notice that the Powerplay had ended as they carried on right through the following six overs. Kamran and Imam brought up their half-centuries in 29 and 26 balls respectively, and when Cameron Delport dismissed the two of them in a remarkable 13th over, they had scored 74 and 58.
That put the brakes on Peshawar for a bit, but when Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard came to the crease, the assault resumed. Peshawar plundered 75 off the last six overs to ensure they comfortably crossed 200, ending with 214 for 5, the second-highest score in PSL history. It came about despite a somewhat comical mix-up between Pollard and Sammy, leading to the former kneeing a ball away to avoid being run-out and being given out obstructing the field instead. Crucially, the West Indian pair had plundered 67 off the 36 balls they faced, meaning Islamabad needed to register the highest PSL chase ever to get to the final.
It was never on, though. Luke Ronchi failed to provide Islamabad the platform they needed, and even as they kept the asking rate just about within reach, they kept bleeding wickets. Chadwick Walton, Delport and Faheem Ashraf all made contributions, but in a game where the defending champions needed something out of the ordinary from one or more of their batsmen, they could only provide short-lived fireworks.
Islamabad pulled Peshawar back after the openers were dismissed in a passage of play where Peshawar scored just 22 runs in four overs. While on Thursday Islamabad had ensured Karachi Kings were squeezed right till the end of their innings, the wheels spectacularly came off in the death overs on this occasion. In the first Eliminator, Islamabad had allowed 11 runs in the last three overs. Here, they leaked 42.
Star of the day
The Peshawar batting line-up put on a masterclass in T20 batting. Four Peshawar players reached double-figures, but they did a lot more than just get there. Kamran, Imam, Pollard and Sammy had strike rates in excess of 170. The belligerence of the openers right through to the 13th over meant Peshawar could send in Pollard and Sammy straight in afterwards, without any need to consolidate in the middle overs. Peshawar batted as if it was the Powerplay for the whole of the innings, resulting in the huge total they posted.
The big miss
For the second time in two games, Ronchi’s innings lasted just nine balls. Whereas yesterday that amount of deliveries had yielded just five runs, today, he scored a more respectable 17. The only problem was in a chase of 215, Islamabad needed a far more weighty contribution from their most valuable batsman, in much the same way Peshawar’s openers had done for their side. The unhindered joy on the faces of Peshawar’s players after Ronchi’s dismissal revealed how much they valued the New Zealander’s wicket. Right from that moment, Islamabad’s run rate had a sense of unsustainability about it; they never could keep it up while keeping wickets intact simultaneously. The chase was valiant, but unsurprisingly, the chase was over well before it actually was.
Where the teams stand
Peshawar join Quetta Gladiators in the title round, the second PSL final between the two sides.