AFP & Cricket Network
AFP & Cricket Network
The Pakistan Super League entered the play-offs on Sunday with title-holders Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi progressing as security fears dominated build-up to the March 5 final in Lahore.
With three play-off matches to play in Dubai, Pakistan Cricket Board and PSL officials have been adamant that the tournament decider will be held in Lahore despite two recent bomb blasts in the city.
The first on February 13 left 14 people dead and over 100 injured, while another on Friday killed eight people in a cafe in Lahore, leaving serious question marks on the staging of the final.
Pakistan Army and the federal government have pledged to give their full support and tight security for teams in the city.
The Punjab province government on Monday announced their approval for the staging of the final in Lahore.
It remains to be seen how many non-Pakistani players travel to Lahore for the match.
Islamabad United's Shane Watson and Brad Haddin are the only two Australians who have played in the tournament so far, while the side is coached by former Test batsman Dean Jones.
Chris Green, who had a breakout KFC Big Bash League campaign for the Sydney Thunder, is the Lahore Qalandars' roster but hasn't played for the side.
Karachi Kings beat Islamabad United by six wickets in a must-win game on Sunday, a result that eliminated the Lahore Qalandars from the finals.
After managing just 59 runs in six games, Chris Gayle had lost his spot in the Karachi XI for their previous match. But the West Indian opener bounced back in typically destructive fashion, hitting a 17-ball 44 with five towering sixes and two boundaries.
Islamabad United, featuring former Australia stars Shane Watson and Brad Haddin, had posted 7-123 with West Indian Dwayne Smith hitting a 36-ball 49.
But Gayle's quickfire knock eased Karachi Kings's 124-run target in a match reduced to 15-over-a-side due to rain.
It was Gayle's West Indian team-mate who brought Lahore's downfall in the last game, smashing two sixes off the last two balls of the match to help Karachi chase down the 156-run target.
Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, who finished first and second respectively on the PSL table, will meet in the first play-offs in Sharjah on Tuesday. The winner will qualify for the final.
The second play-off will be between Islamabad and Karachi in Sharjah on March 1, the winner of which will play the loser of first play-off in Dubai on March 3.