Opener Sharjeel Khan hit the first century in Pakistan Super League to guide Islamabad United to the final after they beat popular Peshawar Zalmi by 51 runs in the third play-off in Dubai on Sunday.
Sharjeel hit a 62-ball 117 but despite his century Islamab’s 176-3 looked below part on a flat Dubai stadium pitch.
It still proved enough for Peshawar as they succumbed to 126 in 18 overs against some fine spin bowling by Imran Khalid who took 4-20 in his concise spell of three overs.
Apart from Karma Akmal’s 32-ball 45 with two sixes and five boundaries no other batsmen could contribute to the cause. Khalid shook the innings with wickets of Akmal, Mohammad hafeez (eight), Brad Hodge (five) and Darren Sammy (nine) to take his tally of wickets in the league to nine.
Andre Russell grabbed 3-37.
Shahid Afridi tried valiantly to do a miracle but his 17-ball 38 were too little and too late.
Islamabad will now meet Quetta Gladiators in the final on Tuesday while Peshawar’s ouster will take the sheen off the final as they are the most popular team amongst the Pathan expats in United Arab Emirates.
Contrastingly, it is a remarkable turnaround for the Misbah-ul-Haq led team for they were in the relegation zone in the first round but peaked at the right time to stake claim for the title.
Earlier, Sharjeel was at his best right from the start, as he put 108 for the opening wicket with Dwayne Smith who took 37 balls for his 19.
Sharjeel clobbered eight sixes and a dozen boundaries and raced to the three-figure mark off 50 balls with a straight six off Shahid Afridi. That must have reminded Afridi, Pakistan’s Twenty20 skipper, what he has missed in his team for the Asia Cup and World Twenty20.
He was finally run out as he failed to regain crease after being sent back by Latif as they attempted a second run.
Shaun Tait removed Smith and Brad Haddin off successive deliveries but failed to achieve a hat-trick as Kamran Akmal dropped a leg-side catch off Khalid Latif.
Latif made 21-ball 28.