Peshawar Zalmi, who stood atop the table after the end of the regular league games in the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), will have to wait until Feb. 21 to see if they make it to the final.
The side, led by Pakistan T20 skipper Shahid Afridi, lost out to Quetta Gladiators, Friday, by the narrowest of narrow margins possible. Led by former England skipper Kevin Pietersen, the Gladiators won by just a run over Peshawar Zalmi in the 1st Qualifying Final of the PSL, held between the two top-of-the-table sides.
Quetta Gladiators have sealed direct qualification to the final of the competition, scheduled to take place on Feb. 23 at the Dubai International Stadium, but Peshawar Zalmi have to wait for now.
Islamabad United take on Karachi Kings in the 2nd Qualifying Final of the PSL, Saturday, and the winner of the match will take on Peshawar Zalmi in the 3rd Qualifying Final, Sunday. The winner of that game progresses to the final.
Pietersen scored a 38-ball 53 to take Quetta Gladiators to 133 all out in 19.3 overs. Peshawar Zalmi, who needed to chase down a not-so-massive total to seal the game, managed only 132 for nine wickets in the 20 overs.
Mohammad Nawaz and Grant Elliott took three wickets each for the Gladiators to restrict their opponents and eke out a grand victory for themselves.
Both Islamabad United and Karachi Kings will now be aware that they will be facing a great fightback from Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday, but before that, first and foremost, they will be looking for a win to reach the next round.
The Shane Watson-led Islamabad United may look the better side on paper after their four wins from eight league games, but the Karachi Kings, who suffered six defeats in the league, won't be expected to back down from a fight.
Shoaib Malik has given up the captaincy for Karachi Kings, and that can either turn out to be an advantage or a disadvantage for the team in the crucial game. Ravi Bopara has been appointed the new skipper of the side.
"Perhaps the team can get better. Maybe if someone else takes the (captaincy) responsibility then Karachi Kings could start winning," Malik was quoted by ESPN Cricinfo. "We have seen in the PSL that if a player has not played some matches then the team has started winning."
Squads: Islamabad United: Shane Watson, Mohammad Irfan, Brad Haddin, Sharjeel Khan, Imran Khalid, Kamran Ghulam, Umar Amin, Sam Billings Mohammad Sami, Khalid Latif, Babar Azam, Andre Russell, Misbah-ul-Haq, Samuel Badree, , Rumman Raees, Amad Butt, Saeed Ajmal, Hussain Talat Ashar Zaidi, Umar Siddiq.
Karachi Kings: Ravi Bopara, Shoaib Malik, Shakib Al Hasan, Sohail Tanvir, Imad Wasim, Lendl Simmons, , Nauman Anwar, Sohail Khan, Mir Hamza, Saifullah Bangash Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Amir, Bilawal Bhatti, James Vince, Iftikhar Ahmed Usama Mir, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shahzaib Hasan, Fawad Alam.
Where to watch live
PSL 2nd Qualifying Final: Islamabad United vs Karachi Kings is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. IST, 9 p.m. PST, 4 p.m. GMT).
Viewers in Pakistan can watch the match live on PTV Sports, Ten Sports and Geo Super with the live streaming option available on PTV Sports Live.
Viewers in UAE can catch the match on OSN, with the live streaming available on OSN Play.
Viewers in the UK can watch the match on Prime TV, with live streaming available on Prime TV Online.