The Report by Danyal Rasool
Islamabad United 147 for 3 (Ronchi 67*, Samit Patel 45*, Imad 2-27) beat Karachi Kings 143 for 6 (Dunk 49*, Ameer Yamin 35*, Faheem 3-26) by seven wickets
How the game played out
Having gotten over their traditional slow start, Islamabad have begun cranking through the gears. A Luke Ronchi special – 67 off 35 – was more than enough to see off Karachi in a below-par chase of 144, in the process sending out a warning to all the other franchises. One of the most complete, all round performances by any side all season, Islamabad’s bowlers had their foot on Karachi throats from the moment Rumman Raees dismissed Colin Munro – perhaps Karachi’s version of Ronchi – in the first over.
There was an element of self-destruction to Karachi’s innings. While they lost wickets to a relentlessly brilliant pace attack, Babar Azam succumbed to a needless runout, taking away Karachi’s last realistic chance of a seriously challenging total. Shadab Khan, captaining in the absence of Mohammad Sami due to a knock, was superb across his spell, conceding just 18 runs off his four overs (the same number Kieron Pollard smashed him for off his last over just yesterday). Before long, they were 74 for six, and it required the firefighting efforts of Ben Dunk and Aamer Yamin to make hay of a rare wayward spell by Islamabad’s bowlers. The pair put together 69 runs in the last 37 balls, ensuring the game would at least be competitive.
Karachi needed a glut of early wickets, but following the early runout of Cameron Delport, Ronchi had set about putting a swift end to any hopes Mickey Arthur’s side might have harboured. He, and later Samit Patel, ensured this win didn’t just bring two points, but also a statement of real intent from the two-time champions.
When Cameron Delport was run out in the first over, it was a sign Karachi may have carried the momentum of the death overs into the second innings, determined to turn this into one of those nasty, low-scoring scraps. But a wayward over from Aamer Yamin that followed conceded 9 runs, and Mohammad Amir was smacked for three fours by Sahibzada Farhan in the third. This was before Ronchi had even got started, and when he did, the end was mercifully swift.
Star of the day
The joy of having Ronchi in your side is he bats in the second innings like he would in the first. Regardless of the target, the former New Zealand and Australia international attacks, literally, from ball one. Smashing Mohammad Amir over long-on off the first ball of the chase put his side in command from the outset. There was to be no let-up, with successive sixes off Usman Shinwari and one off Karachi captain Imad Wasim helping him hurtle to a 22-ball 50. By then, the asking rate was below six, and Ronchi could take a back seat while Samit Patel helped whittle down the runs.
The big miss
Colin Munro has the second highest strike rate among active T20I batsmen with 162. Like his New Zealand teammate Ronchi, he opens the batting, and tees off from ball one. He has three T20I hundreds; only Rohit Sharma with four betters that. In theory, he’s supposed to be a younger, fitter, sexier version of Ronchi, and that mini-contest promised to lend a fascinating subplot to this particular fixture. However, much like Glenn McGrath against Sachin Tendulkar in the 2003 World Cup final, this was a damp squib. While Ronchi’s heroics saw him win his side the game, Munro holed out at deep fine leg off the first ball he faced. Karachi’s trump card had been played and fluffed, and it was a hole Islamabad never allowed them to dig out of.
Where the teams stand
Two wins on the trot sees Islamabad leap to second place, with 6 points, while just one win in four means Karachi remain rooted to the bottom of the table.