March 06 , 2017
Cricket revived, Peshawar Zalmi victorious
PM says days of Pakistan’s isolation over; public enthusiasm at peak; paratroopers show fabulous performance; stadium echoes with Pakistan Zindabad
LAHORE: Cricket was revived in Pakistan as Peshawar Zalmi pulled the strings of Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League 2 final in such a fashion that the glittering trophy fell in their lap here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday.
Peshawar, having scored 148 for six, defeated Quetta, the runners-up of even inaugural edition, by 58 runs in 16.3 overs. The entire team of Quetta was bundeled out for 90 runs with 21 balls spared. Unprecedented security in and around Nishtar Park Sports Complex and the city alike made the Gaddafi Stadium a fortress.
Pakistanis defeated terrorism, as thousands of them thronged the stadium. They had come from the cities as far as Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad, Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan and Muzaffarabad to support cricket that was on decline since the attack on Sri Lankan team in 2009. Though Peshawar lifted the trophy, truthfully speaking it was cricket which was the ultimate winner.
Credit must also be given to Najam Sethi and his team and the PCB and its media department, for making the final in Lahore a possibility with the help of the government and the forces despite all odds and also for ensuring the foreign players’ presence to make the event more dazzling and sparkling.
The entire activity and particularly the security arrangements and the fans passion was watched and closely observed by ICC experts Sean Norris, Bob Niclois (NSA), Mike Selvey (ICC Media), Sean Carrol (CA), Sarathchandra Li Yanage (SL), Reg Dockson (ECB), Julian Siebrand, Director General Intelligence (BCB) and Majakm Anisu d Dowla (intelligence Bangladesh).
Having been restricted to 148 for six, Peshawar reduced Quetta Gladiators to 90 in the 17th over to be the rightful winners of the second edition of the PSL. The opening edition was won by Islamabad United, which was shown the doors by Karachi Kings in the second play-off of PSL-2 but the Kings lost in their play-off to Zalmi.
Gladiators were expected to take an impressive flight but they took a nosedive right from the start. They took 9.2 overs to complete 50 runs and by the 17th over the entire team was bowled out. Their wickets kept tumbling rather precariously, with only three of the Gladiator batsmen Sarfraz Ahmed, 22, Sean Ervine, 24, and Anwar Ali, 24, reaching the double figures, while their other batsmen could altogether make just 20 runs.
Asghar with three wickets was the pick of the bowlers while Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz shared two wickets each and Hafeez and Chris Jordan had one wicket apiece.
Put in to bat, Peshawar openers blazed the Gaddafi Stadium with boundaries but later squandered to Quetta’s bowling attack. Their openers Kamran Akmal and Dawaid Malan started the innings in the same fashion they played in the final play-off in Dubai and here got 42 runs together by the fifth over. Malan miscued the ball from Rayad Emrit that edged straight into the wickets.
Akmran maintained the flow of runs and by the 10th over he, too, was gone scoring 40 runs. Hassan clean bowled him. After he got hit for three boundaries - two sixes and a four, Hasan hit back sending Kamran back. Nawaz at his over’s first ball had Marlon Samuels for 17. Hasan in his following over had Khushdil Shah stumped, leaving Zalmi struggling at 86 for four. After an addition of just 26, they lost another two wickets back to back. Hafeez and Iftikhar were the victims of Emrit at 12 and 14, respectively. At one point Zalmi were seen progressing towards 170-plus runs, but later they struggled to get even singles. Zalmi captain Darren Sammy, however, with three sixes and a four in the later stages, lifted his team’s total, having added 28 individual runs, while Chris Jordan made eight. Emrit with three wickets, Hasan Khan two and Nawaz one played their part and handed the baton to their batsmen to fulfill the job to be the kings.
Earlier, Quetta Gladiators won the toss and opted to bowl first against Peshawar Zalmi in the grand finale. Peshwar Zalmi replaced all-rounder Shahid Afridi with Iftikhar Ahmed. Apart from the local players, Quetta Gladiators had Anamul Haque, MN van Wyk, E Chigumbura, SM Ervine, RR Emrit and NLTC Perera as their foreign players.
In Peshawar Zalmi CJ Jordan, DJ Malan, EJG Morgan, DJG Sammy (Capt), MN Samuels, and Tamim Iqbal were in the squad as their foreign players. Sri Lanka’s Roshan Mahanama was the match referee and his fellow countryman Ranmore Martinesz accompanied Pakistan’s Shozab Raza as on-field umpire. Ahsan Raza was the TV umpire and Ahmed Shahab performed the duties of fourth umpire.
Our Islamabad correspondent and agencies add: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said the days of Pakistan’s isolation in world are now over. His message came during the final amidst unprecedented security. In a statement, he said “Pakistan proved to the world that our days of isolation are over. Over the last four years, we have become stronger, safer and more stable. [We have] created an environment conducive to national aspirations,” the prime minister remarked.
“Cricket is a sport near and dear to all of our hearts and I am glad that our administration has provided people with the ability to experience the exhilaration and passion of their favourite sport,” he said.
“This is the first step in putting Pakistan back on the map within the sporting arena,” he added. “We have risen stronger, more united and prosperous against all odds, fear and division on the night of Pakistan Super League final,” said Nawaz.
The prime minister, aboard a helicopter, also took an aerial view of Gaddafi Stadium to witness arrangements made for the PSL final. Later, he flew to Islamabad on board a special flight.
Meanwhile, the dignitaries watching the final made the occasion more colourful. They included Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Gilgit-Baltistan Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali, Railways Minister Kh Saad Rafique, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Pirzada, Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, ISPR DG Maj Gen Asif Mahmood, Punjab IGP Mushtaq Sukhera, Reham Khan and the family of President Mamnoon Hussain.
The closing ceremony of the PSL 2017 marked the return of international cricket in Pakistan. The star-studded mega-event, attended by 30,000 fans, featured many celebrities including actors Ahmed Ali Butt and Ayesha Omer, singers Ali Zafar, Ali Azmat and Faakhir.
PSL Chairman Najam Sethi had announced at the opening ceremony in Dubai that final would be held in Lahore. However, a series of back-to-back blasts in the country had posed a serious threat to the plans. The latest wave of terrorism had raised the question whether the tournament’s final be held in Pakistan or not.
However, Sethi remained committed to hosting the final in Lahore. After much deliberation and analysis of the security situation, the government had given a green signal to show that the people were not scared of terrorists.
Earlier, the ISPR chief conveyed good wishes to the teams playing the PSL final. In a tweet, he welcomed the foreign players and guests to the mega event and said sports promoted peace and goodwill.