Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Ronchi blitz fires Islamabad into second PSL final

Islamabad United 155 for 2 (Ronchi 94*, Farhan 29) beat Karachi Kings 154 for 4 (Ingram 68*, Denly 51, Sami 2-20) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Luke Ronchi didn't particularly need to do too much on Sunday to be in contention for player of the tournament, but he almost sealed that award with a blistering innings - by far the most devastating one in the tournament's short history. Ninety-four were smashed off 39 balls, 78 off which came through boundaries as Islamabad romped to their second final. The margin of victory in terms of balls remaining (45) was the biggest in the tournament.

Karachi looked to bowl at Ronchi's body without a square leg in place, and he dispatched three boundaries off the first over by Mohammad Amir to set the wheels in motion. The Powerplay was just an inexorable tidal wave of fours and sixes, with no bowler allowed a spell of more than one over, such command did Ronchi have over every one of them. Sixty-nine were carted off the first five overs as he raced to the fastest-ever PSL 50 - off just 19 balls, and the contest was over embarrassingly quickly. Sahibzada Farhan, and later Alex Hales and Samit Patel provided able support, but the day was all about Ronchi, who sealed his side's place in next Sunday's final with aplomb.

Karachi may rue a strangely conservative batting performance. They didn't look to attack till the 14-over mark. That was especially troubling given Eoin Morgan, who elected to bat, assessed the pitch as "excellent to bat on." Even though Colin Ingram injected urgency with a strokeful half-century, they were well behind the par score. Seventy-three came off the last six, thanks largely to Ingram's 29-ball 68. Yet, it never felt enough.

Where the match was won

From the start, Karachi's strategy - if indeed that's what it was - looked odd. Joe Denly and Khurram Manzoor spent the first over blocking and nudging Samit Patel. Okay, that was Patel, and he has been dangerous early on. Yes, they lost two early wickets, but even that couldn't explain the decision to persist with that strategy up until the 14th over. This meant they were at least 30 runs behind par, with virtually no chance of making all that up at the death. Ronchi's innings wasn't a flash in the pan either; he's been at his belligerent best all tournament, so they would have been aware of the need for a big total. Whether they got their tactics wrong is a valid question to ask of Karachi.

All about Ronchi

Ronchi enjoys width, so Amir tried to cramp him for room. He responded by smashing three boundaries to ruin that plan one over into the innings. He likes pace on the ball, so Shahid Afridi was summoned for the third over despite not having bowled in the Powerplay before in the tournament. He went for 14 off five balls. All this amounted to him eclipsing Umar Akmal's previous record to bring up the tournament's fastest half-century off 19 balls. Ronchi now holds the four fastest PSL half-centuries this year.

Once he reached fifty, he did give Karachi chances; he was dropped off consecutive balls on 56 and 57, and later by Afridi when on 74, but by then he had guided the team total past 100. It took Islamabad just 8.3 overs to get there, the quickest in PSL history.

Where they stand Islamabad's comprehensive victory takes them through to Sunday's final. For Karachi to get to their home ground for the grand finale, they will have to beat the winner of Peshawar and Quetta in the eliminator.

Islamabad Un 2nd innings Partnerships

91L RonchiSahibzada Farhan
39L RonchiAD Hales
25L RonchiSR Patel

Pakistan Super League