Both Islamabad and Karachi enjoyed mixed campaigns to qualify for the play-offs with the two teams registering wins five wins and as many losses apiece from their 10 respective clashes.
Islamabad have made the most of a squad that bat deep with the likes of Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf adding some substantial all-round depth.
Veteran opener and 2018 PSL top run-scorer Luke Ronchi has been key at giving the defending champions a rapid start at the top while Chadwick Walton has impressed since joining the side as a replacement player.
South Africa batsman Cameron Delport started the campaign poorly but has come into his own in the last three outings, with his record-breaking ton against Lahore Qalandars securing Islamabad’s ticket to the play-off.
While the batting unit is a formidable one, Islamabad’s bowling isn’t bad either with Faheem leading the way. The Pakistan all-rounder has had an incredible campaign which has seen him pick up 19 wickets and is behind only Hasan Ali (21) in the wicket-taking charts.
Shadab, meanwhile, has not been among the wickets but has maintained a healthy economy-rate of seven.
FAHEEM ASHRAF TAKES SIX WICKETS @iFaheemAshraf bowls @iShaheenAfridi and Lahore Qalandars are 175/8 in the 18th over now— Cricingif (@_cricingif) March 9, 2019
Ball-by-ball scorecard 👉 https://t.co/YtGW6X5svO #LQvIU #PSL2019 #KhelDeewanoKa #CricketForAll pic.twitter.com/PuJV7aIqBl
Karachi Kings, on the other hand, were the last team to secure play-off qualification with a dramatic one-run win over Quetta Gladiators. However, Imad Wasim and his men come into the Eliminator on the back of a crushing 61-run loss at the hands of Peshawar Zalmi.
Like Islamabad, Karachi too have a formidable batting unit at their disposal with three of their batsmen – Colin Ingram, Babar Azam and Liam Livingstone – featuring among the top-five run-scorers for the season.
However, the Kings have been hampered by a lack of consistency throughout the campaign and could have been in real trouble had Usman Shinwari not bailed them out in the one-run win over Quetta Gladiators.
The Pakistan pacer has been key in the bowling department for Karachi along with Mohammad Amir with both bowlers chipping in with 12 wickets each. Shinwari, however, has been really expensive with the ball and has gone at over nine runs an over.
Thankfully for the Kings, youngster Umer Khan has put his hands up in an impressive debut campaign which has seen him pick up 13 wickets including the dismissals of AB de Villiers, Shoaib Malik and Shane Watson (twice).
The 19-year-old left-armed spinner is turning out to be one of the finds of the season and is only behind the experienced Hasan Ali, Faheem and Sohail Tanvir in the wicket-taking charts.
In the two league meetings between Karachi and Islamabad, the latter emerged on top on both occasions by comprehensive margins. Can the Kings overturn that dominance when it matters most?
Islamabad United have been given a big boost with explosive England batsman Alex Hales joining up with the squad in Karachi after completing his international engagements against the West Indies.
The right-hander will certainly bolster the batting department and it would not be a surprise to see him feature on Thursday.
Islamabad United: Luke Ronchi (wk), Alex Hales, Cameron Delport, Chadwick Walton, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Sami (c), Muhammad Musa, Rumman Raees.
Karachi Kings: Babar Azam, Colin Munro, Colin Ingram, Liam Livingstone, Ben Dunk (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim (c), Sohail Khan, Mohammad Amir, Umer Khan, Usman Shinwari.
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