Peshawar Zalmi have beaten defending champions Karachi Kings by six wickets to clinch the first Eliminator.
They will next face Islamabad United in the second Eliminator for a place in the PSL final.
Zalmi reached the 176-run target with a ball to spare.
However, the run chase that seemed too easy after a fiery opening turned into a nail-biting thriller that went down to the wire.
The Kings had the game in the bag, but numerous dropped catches at the death let the match slip away.
First, it was Danish Aziz who slipped while trying to grab the ball, then Thisara Perera lost his footing while paddling backwards.
The Zazai storm
Hazratullah Zazai scored a blistering 77 against his favourite opponents.
Both of his fifties have come up this season against the Kings.
Zazai took the game away from Imad Wasim’s men early in the powerplay.
The way he spanked Mohammad Amir for six off his first ball of the match was sublime.
The Afghanistan batting prodigy made his intentions clear from the first over that he wanted to end the match in a jiffy.
By the time Kings’ Thisara Perera got him caught on the cushions, the left-hander had done the damage.
It seemed like he was batting on a different pitch than the rest of the Peshawar batsmen.
Imam ul Haque and Kamran Akmal seemingly struggled to get some runs whereas Zazai had no trouble creaming the ball all over the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
The midway struggles of Babar Azam
Babar Azam is known for starting slow and accelerating as he faces more balls, but tonight’s outing was different.
The Kings opener was struggling to score at a good strike rate.
He ended up walking back to the pavilion for a 45-ball 53.
Speaking to Rameez Raja during the drinks break, he said that the pitch was tricky to bat on.
Nonetheless, his slow scoring rate took away crucial 20-25 runs that the Kings could have added to their total in the eliminator.
In the end, Thisara Perera’s late cameo got the Kings to the total better than they anticipated.
Karachi Kings 175 for 7 (Babar 53, Perera 37) lose to Peshawar Zalmi 176 for 5 (Zazai 77, Malik 30) by five wickets.
Preview: Peshawar Zalmi vs Islamabad United
Islamabad United will face Peshawar Zalmi in the electrifying second Eliminator that will be held at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night.
Probable Man of the Match
Usman Khawaja has notched 245 runs in only six games on tracks where most batsmen are struggling to score runs.
He seems to have naturally adapted to Dubai’s wickets in the second PSL leg.
The left-hander averages over 61 in the league and he’s likely to hammer Zalmi on Tuesday.
The Tuesday showdown will be Peshawar Zalmi’s batting against Islamabad United’s bowling.
Considering their current forms, Zalmi are likely to reach the finals of this year’s competition.
Wahab Riaz’s men are the probable winner against Shadab Khan’s troops, who looked clueless in every department in the first Qualifier against Multan Sultans.