Karachi Kings once again live to fight another day in this year’s Pakistan Super League with a six-wicket win over Islamabad at Dubai International Stadium.
In a day dominated by rain in Dubai, Karachi progressed at the expense of Lahore Qalandars to set up a second Qualifying Final showdown in Sharjah on March 1 in a repeat of Sunday night’s match.
It means the first knockout fixtures are exact replicas of 2016, with Peshawar and Quetta meeting in the first Qualifying Final on Tuesday, March 28, also in Sharjah.
It was not until 8:30pm that the Islamabad squad, umpires and match referees reached the stadium but their arrival coincided with the cessation of the rain.
Karachi Kings had already been walking around the ground by then, probably hoping the rain would hold out, knowing that shared points was enough to guarantee their safe passage to the second Qualifying Final but defeat could see them crash out the tournament.
But they were made to earn their place in the next stage, a 15-over match finally getting underway at 9:30pm, a whole hour and a half after the scheduled start but a miraculous turnaround for a stadium deluged by the day’s persistent rain across Dubai.
That the game went ahead was testament to the superb work of head groundsman Tony Hemming and his team who lived up to their pre-match assurances that the pitch and outfield would need just half an hour to clear once the rain stopped.
Islamabad United vs Karachi Kings
- Islamabad United 123-7
- Smith (49); Sohail (2-23)
- Karachi Kings
- Gayle (44); Shadab (3-13) 127-4
Once play was possible, Karachi put Islamabad into bat, the reigning champions 123-7 thanks largely to leading run-scorer Dwayne Smith’s 49.
It meant Karachi needed a minimum of 111 in their chase to qualify and knock out Lahore Qalandars.
And Karachi were a team possessed in their run-chase, Chris Gayle finally showing something like his best form after being restored to the starting lineup with a punishing 44 from just 17 balls, an innings that included two fours and five sixes.
Kieron Pollard and Ravi Bopara then first saw their side over the 111-run threshold before sealing victory with a ball remaining to take yet more momentum into the knockout stages of the tournament.