ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: Multan Sultans qualified for their first Pakistan Super League final after beating two-time champion Islamabad United by 31 runs in the playoffs on Monday.
Islamabad will have another opportunity to make the final when it takes on Peshawar Zalmi on Tuesday. Peshawar completed a five-wicket win over Karachi Kings with just one delivery to spare in the first of the eliminator finals.
Sohaib Maqsood’s 59 and Khushdil Shah’s 42 off 22 balls spurred Multan to 180-5 after captain Mohammad Rizwan was dismissed without scoring.
Islamabad, renowned for its run chases, fell against the pace of Sohail Tanvir (3-17) and Zimbabwe swing bowler Blessing Muzarabani (3-31) and was bowled out for 149 with an over to spare.
Left-arm seamer Tanvir knocked back the middle stump of the in-form Colin Munro for a duck off his second delivery and returned to get the key wicket of Usman Khawaja, who threatened to take the game away from Multan with a scintillating knock of 70 off 40 balls.
Khawaja, who plays test cricket for Australia but is the only Islamabad-born player in the United squad, completed his half-century off 33 balls and smashed Muzarabani for a six and three consecutive boundaries in the 14th over.
But Tanvir returned in the next over and Shah hung onto a well judged catch at deep midwicket to dismiss Khawaja. Islamabad hopes died.
Earlier, after electing to bat first, Maqsood earned a fourth half-century this season. The discarded Pakistan international hit seven fours and three pulled sixes to save Multan.
Islamabad captain Shadab Khan picked up both of his wickets in the first over when he had Shan Masood and Rilee Rossouw leg before wicket and Multan slipped to 59-3 in the eighth over.
But Maqsood added a brisk 63 with Johnson Charles, who hit a quickfire 41 from three fours and three sixes.
Shah kept up the momentum when he smacked young fast bowler Akif Javed for 29 runs in the penultimate over that featured four successive sixes and a four.
In the later match, Karachi batted first and posted 175-7, with Babar Azam scoring 53 at the top of the order and Thisara Perera belting three sixes as he reached 37 from 18 balls in the middle.
Hazratullah Zazai anchored the run chase for Peshawar in a player-of-the-match innings, hitting five sixes and 10 fours as he plundered the Karachi attack for 77 from 38 deliveries. He dominated partnerships of 49 with Kamran Akmal and 43 with Imam-ul-Haq for the first two wickets and lifted Peshawar to 103-3 by the time he was dismissed in the 12th over.
Shoaib Malik (30) kept up the momentum for Peshawar until his dismissal in the penultimate over.
The winner of the Tuesday’s second eliminator will meet Multan in the final on Thursday.