Islamabad knocks out hosts Karachi from PSL

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Pakistani cricket fans celebrate the victory of Islamabad United against Karachi Kings, in the Pakistan Super League playoff at National Stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Defending champions Islamabad United knocked out hosts Karachi Kings from the Pakistan Super League with a four-wicket victory in eliminator 1 on Thursday.

England opener Alex Hales, who flew in especially for the playoffs in Pakistan, top scored with 41 as Islamabad reached 164-6 in 19.2 overs.

Karachi couldn't cash in on New Zealand opener Colin Munro's brisk start of 32 off 11 balls and was earlier restricted to 161-9.

The 2016 and 2018 champions Islamabad will now take on 2017 winners Peshawar Zalmi in eliminator 2 on Friday. The winner will meet Quetta Gladiators in Sunday's final.

Karachi's batsmen disappointed its home supporters at the packed 32,000-capacity National Stadium after its captain Imad Wasim won the toss and elected to field.

Munro's brisk knock, loudly cheered by home team fans, had laid a solid platform for Karachi to post a big total as it reached 100-1 by the half way mark.

But the wickets of Munro and top-ranked Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam, who made 42, disintegrated Karachi's innings as it lost eight wickets for only 61 runs in the latter half of the innings.

Young fast bowler Mohammad Musa (3-42) picked up the vital wickets of Munro and dangerous Colin Ingram (23) and Pakistan leg spinner Shadab Khan (1-26) bowled a tidy four-over spell.

Karachi's left-arm spinner Umer Khan (2-16) pulled back Islamabad run-chase when he dismissed South African Cameron Delport (38) and Chadwick Walton (0) in his second over.

And when Hales departed, giving Azam his fourth catch of the innings at long off, Islamabad still required 48 runs off 26 balls.

But Azam missed a crucial catch of Asif Ali in the penultimate over as the right-hander scored an unbeaten 24 off just 10 deliveries that cruised the defending champions to victory with four balls to spare.

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