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Hales, Asif see Islamabad through, Karachi Kings eliminated | Cricket

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Muhammad Musa celebrates a wicket © Pakistan Super League


Islamabad United 164 for 6 (Hales 41, Delport 38, Talat 32, Asif 24*, Umer 2-16) beat Karachi Kings 161 for 9 (Babar 42, Munro 32, Musa 3-42, Faheem 2-30) by 4 wickets

How the game played out

Karachi Kings may be one of the less prolific sides in this competition’s brief history, but they are the only side to have knocked Islamabad United out of any PSL tournament. That victory came in an Eliminator two years ago. But today, Islamabad United avenged that loss in a scrappy, entertaining game where both sides chugged along like an antique car on a dodgy engine, hurtling along seemingly without control before grinding to a halt at various stages of their innings. The upshot was a four-wicket win for Islamabad, who chased down Karachi’s 161 with three balls to spare.

Despite the loss, the most memorable part of the game was arguably the first six overs. Karachi had courageously won the toss and chosen to bat first in a tournament where that decision is close to sacrilege, and blistered to 50 in just 20 balls as Colin Munro finally began to make good on the talent based on which he was signed. When he feathered an edge to Mohammad Musa, he had smashed 32 runs in a mere 11 balls, and Karachi were motoring along at 17 an over. They would go on to add an eye-watering 78 in the first six, as the boundaries flew like confetti.

Islamabad came back to choke them after the Powerplay ended, and somehow maintained that stranglehold right throughout the innings, with Karachi only just managing to double their Powerplay total, in the end limping to 161 for nine. Most of Islamabad’s bowlers had recovered their figures, and the one who was most expensive – Muhammad Musa – was the highest wicket-taker, having removed Munro, Ingram and Iftikhar Ahmed.

Islamabad’s chase always looked tight, not helped by a slow start and Ronchi’s early departure. Alex Hales and Cameron Delport saw them through the Powerplay, but the nerves wouldn’t have been eased as the asking rate continued to rise in the face of a stellar bowling attack and a world-class spell from Umer Khan. Towards the end, it came down to Islamabad’s own local talent in Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali and Hussain Talat to manage the asking rate. Mohammad Amir missed his lines once too often, Babar Azam dropped a catch once too frequently and Karachi were simply a few too short in the final overs. It all amounted to Islamabad getting to the finish line just in time, dashing Karachi’s hopes of a title on home soil.

Turning point

  • Karachi began to struggle as soon as that whirlwind of a Powerplay came to a close, but the final three overs were especially ruinous to their chances. Positioned at 150 for six with three overs to go, they still had the opportunity to pose a stiff challenge with a brisk finish. Instead, the last three overs saw a mere 11 runs scored.

Star of the day

Pakistan have swooned over the fast bowling gems they may have unearthed this tournament, and bemoaned the lack of exciting local batsmen. But the find of the competition may be 19-year old Umer Khan, perhaps the most promising spinner to come out of the PSL since Shadab Khan. Having impressed ever since he got AB de Villiers out weeks ago, Umer has found a way to get the biggest names of the planet out just when Karachi have required him to. His spell today was one of the spells of the tournament, with the teenager the only bowler to find genuine drift and turn on a flat wicket. He wasn’t afraid of flighting the ball, and found due rewards, finding the outside edges of Delport and Chadwick Walton within three deliveries of each other. He ended up with 4-0-16-2, and if ever a performance deserved not to end up in the losing side, it was his.

The big miss

Ronchi has the highest strike rate in the world off the first 10 balls, but the New Zealand opener was strangely subdued over that period today. Valued around the world because he doesn’t need so much as a warm-up ball to begin attacking the bowlers, Ronchi played out nine deliveries today, unable to get one to the boundary rope. Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir and Aamer Yamin all executed their plans perfectly, pitching the ball short of a length. It deprived Ronchi of the ability to strike the ball through the line. The change-up came off his ninth ball, with Yamin sending down a wide yorker that Ronchi could only mishit to mid-on. 5 off 9 is an unlikely innings breakdown for the Islamabad talisman, and in a game of exceptionally fine margins, they almost ended up paying for it.

Big picture

Karachi bow out with today’s defeat, with Islamabad through to the playoff with Peshawar tomorrow. The winner of that contest plays Quetta Gladiators in the final.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000


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Don’t care if I’m judged on not winning the IPL – Virat Kohli

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Virat Kohli has chuckled at the suggestion that not winning the IPL is a frustration for him, and said it doesn’t matter to him if his legacy is judged based on that.

Kohli has been with Royal Challengers Bangalore since the team’s inception and their designated captain since 2013. Royal Challengers are among the three active teams – Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab are the other two – who have never won the title, although they have been runners-up on three occasions. Under Kohli, they were in the play-offs in 2015 and runners-up in 2016. However, they have finished eighth and sixth in the last two years.

This middling record prompted Gautam Gambhir to say earlier this week that Kohli was ‘very lucky‘ that Royal Challengers had retained him as captain for so long, and that he had a long way to go before being spoken about in the same bracket as multiple-IPL-winning captains like Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni.

“Obviously, you want to win the IPL,” Kohli said on the eve of the IPL season-opener in Chennai. “I am doing what I am supposed to do. I don’t care whether I am going to be judged on this [not winning IPL] or not. There is no real, sort of, parameters you set. I try to perform wherever I can. I try to win all the possible titles, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. We have to be practical about why we haven’t won one. That boils down to bad decision-making in pressure situations.

“If I think like people from outside, I can’t even sustain five games. I would be sitting at home. I know people talk about it a lot and they like to grab opportunities to talk about these things. But I have a responsibility here and given a chance, as a captain, I would love to win the IPL for my team. We all are motivated to do so.”

Kohli reiterated the point he made last week that decision-making in pressure situations had cost Royal Challengers in big matches, adding that he sees enough proof that his team are contenders this year.

“It [winning the title] has not happened and that’s the reality,” he said. “No excuses for that. Only acceptance of the faults that we made in the past. The fact that we played six [five] semi-finals means that we have been a side who are always in contention. If we make better decisions, we can go further than that. That’s how I see things.”



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Concerns for Mumbai’s pace attack as Adam Milne pulls out of the IPL

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New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne is understood to have pulled out of the IPL. ESPNcricinfo understands Milne, who was signed by Mumbai Indians at the IPL auction for INR 75 lakhs (USD 104,000 approx on the day of auction), has a swollen heel.

Milne’s pullout means Mumbai have lost a second overseas fast bowler in quick succession. Lasith Malinga has opted to skip the first six matches of the IPL to fulfill the condition set by Sri Lanka Cricket to play in the domestic 50-overs competition in order to qualify for World Cup selection.

Although there has been no statement from the franchise on Milne’s injury, Mumbai are believed to be keen on roping in the young West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph as a replacement. Also, as per IPL rules, the amount a franchise can pay the replacement player cannot exceed that paid to the original player. So any player that replaces Milne cannot be paid over INR 75 lakhs.

Mumbai, who play their opening match at home on Sunday, against Delhi Capitals, currently have three overseas fast bowlers: New Zealand T20 freelancer Mitchell McClenaghan and the Australian pair of Jason Behrendorff and Ben Cutting.



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Prasadani Weerakkody, Udeshika Prabodhani left out of Sri Lanka’s T20I squad

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Sri Lanka women decided to stick with more or less the same squad that was whitewashed by England in the ODI series, making only a few tweaks for the three-match T20I series starting on Sunday. Hansima Karunaratne, Sugandika Kumari and Inoshi Priyadharshani retained their spots, having been brought in for the ODIs, while the uncapped 24-year-old Madushika Meththananda also found a place.

Making way were teenagers Tharika Sewwandi and Kavisha Dilhari, and the veteran pair of Prasadani Weerakkody and Udeshika Prabodhani. Weerakody and Prabodhani have played 93 T20Is and 106 ODIs between them, but poor form meant both players were left out of the playing XI by the end of the ODI series.

Following a forgettable T20 World Cup campaign in November, the Sri Lankan selectors had voiced their desire to give younger players a chance, which could bode well for Meththananda and the 17-year-old Umesha Thimashini.

Thimashini had been left out of the ODI squad but retained her place in the T20I setup where her offspin may be of more use. Meanwhile, Meththananda, who bowls right-arm medium-pace, has been part of several squads in the past is yet to get a game. With Sri Lanka’s bowlers having thus far struggled to trouble England to any reasonable extent, and with the team playing just one seamer in the final ODI, Meththananda may find herself with some game time this time around.

Just like their ODI record, Sri Lanka’s T20I record against England is not promising. The two sides have faced each other five times in T20Is with England emerging winners on each occasion.

All three T20Is will be played at the P Sara Oval.

Squad: Chamari Atapattu (capt), Umesha Thimashini, Anushka Sanjeewani, Hansima Karunaratne, Hasini Perera, Sugandika Kumari, Harshitha Samarawickrema, Sashikala Siriwardena, Nilakshi De Silva, Inoshi Priyadarshani, Imalka Mendis, Achini Kulasooriya, Madushika Meththananda, Inoka Ranaweera, Oshadi Ranasinghe



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