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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

PSL 2018: Luke Ronchi hopes his Islamabad United avoid Karachi Kings in final

Kings franchise will receive the bulk of the support if they can make it through to the final at Karachi's National Stadium

Luke Ronchi's crushing innings of 94 not out from 39 balls against Karachi Kings at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday night sent them through to the final of the 2018 Pakistan Super League in Karachi. Satish Kumar for The National
Luke Ronchi's crushing innings of 94 not out from 39 balls against Karachi Kings at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday night sent them through to the final of the 2018 Pakistan Super League in Karachi. Satish Kumar for The National

Luke Ronchi is hoping his Islamabad United side can avoid playing Karachi Kings in the HBL Pakistan Super League final – if only so they can get at least some support at the National Stadium on Sunday.

The former New Zealand batman’s explosive hitting sent Islamabad straight through to the showpiece fixture in Karachi.

His crushing innings of 94 not out from 39 balls at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday night meant the Islamabad players will spend the week relaxing in the UAE, before heading to Pakistan at the weekend.

The Kings franchise will still get a second chance to make it there. On Wednesday, they will have to play the winners of Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, who meet in Tuesday’s first eliminator play-off at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Last year’s PSL final in Lahore was the first time major cricket had returned to Pakistan after a lengthy spell due to security issues.

Peshawar’s success back then, and particularly the willingness of their overseas players to travel to Lahore to play the fixture, was gratefully received by the home supporters.

There has been a similar anticipation for the finale of PSL 3, and Ronchi is looking forward to the experience of playing a major match in Pakistan.

He has played there before, with Australia A in 2007, but those matches in Lahore, Faisalabad and Sheikhupura were of a far lower profile than the PSL final.

“We are excited,” Ronchi said. “We know the final was sold out in three hours. I hope we don’t play against Karachi, so we actually have some support in that crowd.

“It is going to be good for all Islamabad United fans, players, the whole unit that we have.”

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Last year, all of Peshawar’s contingent of overseas players chose to travel to Lahore to play the final. By contrast, Quetta’s all opted out.

Subsequently Peshawar were convincing winners against a side who had to borrow players from a reserve player pool, for one match only.

Twelve months on, and having watched that experience from afar, the majority of overseas players have chosen to travel – but there will be some conspicuous absentees.

Eoin Morgan opted out of travelling with the Karachi franchise, in similar circumstances to when he chose not to play for England in Bangladesh last winter.

Morgan’s experience of PSL 3 was an odd one. He arrived late from England’s tour of New Zealand, played three matches – all as captain in place of Imad Wasim, who is suffering the effects of concussion – and has now left with potentially two matches still to play.

“I wish them the best of luck,” Morgan said after leading Karachi in their eight-wicket defeat to Islamabad in Dubai.

“I have enjoyed the week that I’ve been here. It has been a pleasure playing. I thoroughly enjoyed my time last year, and potentially in the future if the chance comes up, I might have the chance to come back.

“I think captaincy is difficult, regardless of when you take it over. It is a difficult challenge, but a challenge worth taking on.

“Any team that you captain can be difficult at certain stages. I think with the talent we have in the side it has been enjoyable to take over.”

Result
Qualifier: Islamabad United beat Karachi Kings by eight wickets

Fixtures
Tuesday, Lahore: Eliminator 1 - Peshawar Zalmi v Quetta Gladiators
Wednesday, Lahore: Eliminator 2 – Karachi Kings v Winner of Eliminator 1
Sunday, Karachi: Final – Islamabad United v Winner of Eliminator 2

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