Karachi meet Islamabad eyeing the final

Sharjah: The UAE leg of the Pakistan Super League’s third edition comes to an end on Sunday with table-toppers Islamabad United taking on Karachi Kings in the qualifier at the Dubai International Stadium. The winner of this match will go through to the final but the loser will get a second chance against the winner of the first eliminator between third-placed Peshawar Zalmi and fourth-placed Quetta Gladiator, to be held on March 20. The second eliminator is scheduled for March 21 with both the matches being played in Lahore.

Karachi, after defeating Islamabad at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday night by seven wickets, are aiming for the final in Karachi.

When Karachi coach Mickey Arthur was asked whether there is pressure on his team to reach the ‘home’ final to be held on March 25, he said: “To be honest there has been pressure right from the start of this competition because everybody wants Karachi in the final. We had to repeatedly tell them ‘hang on guys’ as we hadn’t even played our first match then. We’ve got to take one step at a time and be realistic but Karachi reaching Karachi for the final would be incredible for the competition and incredible for our franchise, but we still got to play a couple of games to do it.”

Islamabad coach Dean Jones seemed not to be affected by the Karachi defeat as he even tried out a few young players by resting the main players.

Answering to a query from Gulf News as to what would his approach be for the final push in Dubai, Jones said: “We have to remind them why we finished No. 1 in the table. We have a terrific group of players with everyone enjoying each other. We’ve had more net practice than anyone and more pool sessions than other franchise. We have been unbelievably prepared. There is no stone unturned when we go into matches.”

In fact, he said he is very impressed by the way the team clinched the top slot in the table and hopes that his team will carry the trend. “I have been really impressed by the way we have gone about our work from the start getting players, particularly the young Pakistan players, to understand what their roles are to play with freedom and with the believe we have in them. We did not play well tonight against Karachi as we made a couple of changes to give a few guys a chance leading into Pakistan when we go there. Otherwise it has been really good.”

It was a disappointing end for Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans, the two team that failed to advance into the play-offs. Debutants Multan after a promising start could muster only nine points while Lahore finished at the bottom with six points.

Brendon McCullum did everything that could be possible to put Lahore on the road to the play off. “We are really disappointed that we are out of the tournament. We had high hopes when we came into the tournament. We took too long to find our feet. It’s frustrating, disappointing and probably just missed opportunities.”

Brief scores: Karachi Kings bt Islamabad United by 7 wkts. Islamabad 124 in 19 overs (Chadwick Walton 21, Asif Ali 34, Usman Khan 4 for 17, Mohammad Irfan Jr 2 for 44, Shahid Afridi 2 for 18) Karachi 125 for 3 in 17 overs (Joe Denly 36, Babar Azam 29, Colin Ingram 31n.o) Man of the match: Usman Khan.

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