Defending champions Islamabad United shattered Karachi Kings hopes to qualify for the Pakistan Super League final when they successfully chased the 162-run target in the nail-biting Eliminator 1 between the sides at National Stadium Karachi here on Thursday. Asif Ali cut the wings of Imad Waseem-led Karachi with his unbeaten 10-ball 24 knock which played a pivotal role during the death overs while facing Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan Shinwari and Aamir Yameen. Islamabad won by four wickets with three balls remaining. With the defeat, Karachi are out of the tournament while Islamabad need to defeat Peshawar Zalmi in order to advance to the final. Quetta Gladiators are already in the final to be played on March 17 (Sunday) at the same venue.Islamabad had lost Luke Ronchi early for just five before Cameroon Delport and Alex Hales added 44 for the second-wicket. Hales with his 41 off 42 balls, with five boundaries and one six, setup a solid base for Islamabad. Delport wasted a good start as he lofted spinner Umer Khan straight into the hands of Babar Azam. He made 27-ball 38 with two sixes and four boundaries. The momentum was later carried ahead by Hussain Talat who made 32. Umer bowled a sensational 2-16, while Yameen had a 2-27 spell. Usman and Amir picked one wicket apiece.Hales, playing his first match this year after joining from England’s tour of the West Indies, was declared man-of-the-match. “It was a tricky chase,” said Hales. “I thought that it was a belter of a wicket but it slowed down, Umer bowled very well. I knew that we have Hussain and Asif so they could take us to the win.” Islamabad captain Mohammad Sami credited fight back in bowling. “They were running away but our bowlers put them back and that became the turning point,” said Sami. “Chase is always difficult but all the players showed character and contributed.” Karachi skipper Imad termed death bowling as the difference. “We were 20-30 runs short and the difference was in both teams’ death bowling,” said Imad. “I think their bowlers bowled very well and pulled us back.”Earlier, Karachi spurned a brisk start of 61 runs in five overs as they lost eight wickets off 58 ball for 59 runs to derail from 102-1 to 161-9 in their 20 overs. Babar (42), Colin Munro (32) and Liam Livingstone (30) were their main run getters. Muhammad Musa was the tormentor-in-chief from Islamabad bagging 3 wickets for 42 runs followed by Faheem Ashraf who took 2 for 30.Brief scores:Karachi Kings 161-9 in 20 overs (Babar Zaman 42, Colin Munro 32, Liam Livingstone 30; Mohammad Musa 3-42) VS Islamabad United 164-6 in 19.3 overs (Alex Hales 41, Cameron Delport 38, Umer Khan 2-16).Published in Daily Times, March 15th 2019.