Peshawar Zalmi will contest Quetta Gladiators in the final of this year’s Pakistan Super League in Lahore on Sunday after a 24-run win over Karachi Kings in the third Qualifying Final at Dubai International Stadium on Friday night.
Peshawar was hoping to avenge defeat at the same stage of last year’s tournament when Sharjeel Khan’s century put them to the sword.
Like then, Peshawar went into the match after defeat to Quetta in the first qualifier but this time it was the men in yellow inspired by a centurion of their own.
Kamran Akmal’s superb hundred fuelled the Peshawar charge after being put into bat, forming first a 97-run opening partnership with Dawid Malan (36) and then a 77-run stand for the second wicket with Marlon Samuels (37*).
Akmal eventually departed in the final over, attempting a suicidal second run, his innings bringing the sell-out Dubai crowd to their feet in appreciation.
It was the continuation of Akmal’s resurgence, which has seen him score two half centuries for Zalmi this seaso.
His latest knock was that of a big game player standing up and being counted when his team needed him to. Coming from just 65 balls, Akmal’s 104 included six fours and seven sixes, as Peshawar posted a healthy 181-3 from their 20 overs.
The Karachi response wobbled in just the second over, Babar Azam falling to Chris Jordan to leave them 2-1 and on the ropes.
Karachi Kings vs Peshawar Zalmi
- Peshawar Zalmi 181-3
- Akmal (104); Amir (1-31)
- Karachi Kings 157-7
- Pollard (47); Wahab (3-24)
Next man Kumar Sangakkara wasn’t to last long, top edging Wahab Riaz to Samuels for 15 to leave Karachi 19-2 and their hopes of reaching Sunday’s final teetering.
Just two balls and no runs later Karachi dreams faded further as Shoaib Malik was held superbly by Mohammad Hafeez at mid-on for a golden duck, handing Jordan his second wicket.
The revolving door at the opposite end to Chris Gayle kept spinning, Ravi Bopara the next to depart for just six and Karachi 39-4 by the time Kieron Pollard entered the picture.
Gayle raced from two from 15 balls to 27 from 24, taking a particular liking to Shahid Afridi by launching the Peshawar all-rounder into the stands three times in his first two overs.
If Karachi were to advance they needed the kind of devastating innings that have made Gayle the most successful player in the history of T20 cricket and Pollard; Karachi’s go-to man this season.
It wasn’t to be for Gayle, Wahab bowling the West Indian for 40 from 31 balls with a sumptuous slower ball yorker.
The onus shifted to Pollard to fire his side to victory once more and he certainly relished the challenge, launching three enormous sixes en route to taking the required total to 71 runs from the final six overs.
Unfortunately for Karachi, not even Pollard could rescue them this time around.