Peshawar Zalmi 214 for 5 (Kamran 74, Imam 58, Delport 2-24) beat Islamabad United 166 for 9 (Walton 48, Faheem 31, Hasan Ali 3-29) by 48 runs
How the game played out
It was a game that really mattered, as for things as trivial as cricket matches matter on a day like this go. Followed by an emotional minute of silence - impeccably observed - at the National Stadium Karachi to mark the terror attacks in Christchurch, Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United, sporting black armbands, took the field in a virtual semi-final. Defending champions Islamabad were knocked out by a clinical Peshawar who, with their 48-run win, also avenged their loss to Islamabad in last season's PSL final and reached the trophy match for the third successive year.
The platform for the win was a sizzling 135-run opening stand between Imam-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal, put up in just 12.2 overs. It was an onslaught right from the moment Kamran caressed the first ball of the innings for a boundary through point, and barely seemed to notice the Powerplay had ended as it carried right through the following six overs. Kamran and Imam brought up their half centuries in 29 and 26 balls respectively, and when Cameron Delport dismissed both of them in a remarkable 13th over, they had put on 74 and 58.
That put the brakes on Peshawar for a bit, but when Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard came to the crease, the assault was unrestrained once more. Peshawar plundered 75 off the last six overs to ensure they comfortably crossed 200, ending up with 214, the second-highest score in PSL history. It came about despite a somewhat comical mix-up between Pollard and Sammy, leading to the former knee a ball away to avoid being run out and being given out obstructing the field instead. The West Indian pair had plundered a joint 67 off the 36 balls they faced, meaning Islamabad needed to register the highest PSL chase ever to get to the final.
It was never on. Luke Ronchi once more couldn't provide Islamabad the platform they needed, and even as Islamabad kept the asking rate just about in reach, they kept bleeding wickets at regular intervals. Chadwick Walton, Cameron Delport and Faheem Ashraf all made contributions, but in a game where the defending champions needed heroics, the batsmen could only provide short-lived fireworks.
Islamabad pulled Peshawar back after the openers were dismissed in a passage of play where Peshawar scored just 22 runs in four overs. Where yesterday Islamabad had ensured Karachi were squeezed right to the end of their innings, the wheels spectacularly came off in the death overs today. Yesterday, Islamabad had allowed 11 runs in the last three overs. Today, they leaked 42.
Star of the day
The Peshawar batting lineup put on a masterclass of T20 batting today. Four Peshawar players reached double figures, but they did a lot more than that. Everyone of Kamran, Imam, Pollard and Sammy had a strike rate in excess of 170. The belligerence of the openers right through to the 13th over meant Peshawar could send in Pollard and Darren Sammy straight afterwards, without any need to rebuild in the middle overs. In that manner, Peshawar batted as if it were the Powerplay or the death overs for the whole of the innings, resulting in the gargantuan total the posted.
The big miss
For the second time in two games, Luke Ronchi's innings lasted just nine balls. Whereas yesterday that amount of deliveries had yielded just 5 runs, today, he managed a more respectable 17. The only problem was in a chase of 215, Islamabad needed a far more weighty contribution from their most valuable batsman, in much the same way Peshawar's openers had done for their side. The unhindered joy on the faces of Peshawar's players after Ronchi's dismissal revealed how much they valued the New Zealander's wicket. Right that moment onwards, Islamabad's run rate had a sense of unsustainability about it; they never could keep it up while keeping wickets simultaneously. The chase was valiant, but unsurprisingly, the tail was in long, and the game effectively over, several overs before the end.
Where the teams stand
Peshawar join Quetta Gladiators in the final, the second PSL final between the two sides. Defending champions Islamabad United are out. Both Quetta and Peshawar will be playing their third PSL final in four editions.