Chris Gayle scored 44 off 17 balls     AFP
Chris Gayle scored 44 off 17 balls AFP

In a must win game, Karachi Kings won the toss and elect to bowl first against Islamabad United in match No. 20 of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017. The match was converted into 15-overs a side affair after rain and wet outfield hampered regular start. Chasing 124 runs to win, more importantly 111+ runs to qualify for the play-offs, Babar Azam and Chris Gayle got their Kings off to a rollicking start, making 50 runs in now time. Gayle, in particular was the game changer, smashing 44 runs in 17 balls to not only help his side qualify for the play-offs but also guide his team to a 6-wicket win. PCB likely to decide venue of PSL 2017 final on Sunday

Azam was lucky to survive on 13 after being dropped by Ben Duckett at covers. Gayle who looked out of sorts, finally pulled out his bread and butter shots, sixes. Gayle in particular targeted Mohammad Irfan, who was hammered for 35 in his 3 overs. He continued his onslaught on Saeed Ajmal, battering him for hat trick of sixes in an over before getting caught at short third man for 44. Skipper Sangakarra, too departed soon making 10 off 10.

Shadab Khan, who has been Islamabad s most potent bowler struck 2 in 2, getting Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam. Azam s wicket in particular was the best of the game, as he missed a googly that crashes into his stumps. It was Kieron Pollard and Ravi Bopara that made sure Kings qualified for the play-offs stage of PSL 2017 first, then moved on to win the final league match. Needing 18 off 12, both Pollard (20) and Bopara (11) struck crucial fours to reach their target with one-ball to spare.

Earlier, United started their batting in style with Dwayne Smith and Duckett coming out all guns blazing. Smith in particular took the offence-route, while Duckett was slow to charge. Just when Duckett looked in form, he gave his wicket away for 16 holding out to Pollard at mid on. Hussain Talat, also did not do much for his team, making 11 before getting run out.

New man Shane Watson, failed with the bat once again. In a bid to score big, he pulled one straight into hands of Pollard off Sohail Khan.

Smith meanwhile continued to anchor the innings, hitting crucial boundaries at will. It was Kings’ final over brilliance that restricted United to 123 for 7. Sohail in the second last over picked up two wickets in the form of Brad Haddin (20) and Smith (49); both of consecutive balls.

Mohammad Aamer bowling the final over, got hit for 2 sixes, but did manage to pick Shadab for 9 and Misbah-ul-Haq for 12 runs, respectively.

Kings made just the one change in their side, brining in Gayle for Jayawardene, while United made a couple of changes for their own, replacing Rafatullah and Samuel Badree by Ben Duckett and Saeed Ajmal.

Brief scores:

Islamabad United 123 for 7 (Dwayne Smith 49; Brad Haddin 20; Sohail Khan 2 for 23) lost to Karachi Kings 127 for 4 (Chris Gayle 44, Babar Azam 27; Shadab Khan 3 for 13) by 6 wickets.

Man of the Match: Chris Gayle