Peshawar Zalmi, led by Kamran Akmal’s 40 and a magnificent cameo from skipper Darren Sammy, defeated Quetta Gladiators by 58 runs to clinch the Pakistan Super League title at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore on Sunday.
It was sweet revenge for Peshawar Zalmi, having lost by one run in the first qualifying final to Quetta Gladiators in Sharjah as they put in a spirited performance with both bat and ball.
Quetta Gladiators won the toss and inserted Peshawar Zalmi in, who were without their star player Shahid Afridi who was ruled out of the final due to a finger injury. Kamran Akmal and David Malan put on a 42-run opening stand before Malan was snapped up by Rayad Emrit. Kamran held firm and at 82/1 after 9.5 overs, Peshawar Zalmi looked set for a big total.
However, Peshawar Zalmi lost their way when Kamran was trapped LBW for 40 by Hasan Khan while Marlon Samuels was bowled by Mohammad Nawaz for 19. In the next four overs, Peshawar Zalmi managed just eight runs and the situation became dire for them when Emrit picked up two wickets in the 17th over to reduce them to 112/6.
Skipper Sammy changed the complexion of the match as he slammed a six and a four in the 19th over as Emrit conceded 18. In the last over, Sammy launched two sixes off Anwar Ali as Peshawar Zalmi finished on a more respectable 148/6.
In response, Quetta Gladiators got off to a horror start as they were reduced to 37/5 in 7.2 overs. Sean Ervine and Anwar Ali steadied the ship with a 35-run stand, with Ervine going past 3000 Twenty20 runs in the process. However, Mohammad Asghar struck twice in the 13th over to finish with magnificent figures of 4-0-16-3 as Peshawar Zalmi closed in on a win.
Chris Jordan and Wahab Riaz struck after the final strategic time-out and Hasan Ali chipped in with the last wicket as Quetta Gladiators were bowled out for 90 to give Peshawar Zalmi a grand victory in front of their adoring fans.
The final was a grand occasion for Lahore and Pakistan, as it was hosting a major tournament for the first time since the Lahore terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team in March 2009. Heading into the final, there were doubts on whether the tournament could be held in Lahore after the city witnessed a spate of suicide bomb attacks. This led to several foreign players from both Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi to pull out of the final.
However, with Over 10,000 security personnel been deployed for the final, it was a grand occasion with several performances from rock bands and other artists lighting up the occasion.
The Pakistan Super League chairman, Najam Sethi, also thanked the Punjab police and the army for providing the arrangements. Meher Muhammad Khalil, the heroic bus driver who had rescued the Sri Lankan team when it was attacked, was in attendance and he got a rousing reception from the packed stadium.
With Lahore having hosted an incident-free Pakistan Super League final, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be optimistic that international cricket could return to the country soon.