LAHORE:The Pakistan Super League concluded on Sunday in sensational fashion with unarguably the tournament’s two best teams, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, fighting tooth and nail to lift the trophy.
The overall impact the league has had on the world of cricket is undoubtedly huge. The concluding match played out in front of a raucous Lahore crowd at Gadaffi stadium was only one in a number of games that raised the bar for the quality of T20 cricket. The PSL also justified using a bowler in their logo as proved by a number of games including the final.
The quality of cricket and competitiveness of the game had a much higher standard in this edition of the PSL than it did in the first. In this regard, it must be said that the teams seem to have learned from last year’s mistakes and have perfected combinations from last year that were already strong on paper.
Perhaps the most telling facts regarding the tournament’s increased competitiveness is the average first innings score of both tournaments. Last year’s league had an average of 148. This year’s competition however had an average first innings total of 154 despite numerous matches being effected by rain and one even being called off. Despite this there was no real effect on the number of games won by the team batting second, and the accounts remained quite balanced.
This year’s tournament was a highly competitive affair with at least 13 of the games proving to certified nail biters. Moreover at least 12 matches were recorded going into the final over of the game and there even last ball finishes.
In the 2016 tournament, there were a total of 6 matches that went into the final over and could be called close finishes. And of these, most were won by the team that had set the target. In match 6, Islamabad United left Karachi Kings stranded at 130/9 in their 20 overs, 2 short of the Islamabad total. Quetta’s defeat of Peshawar in 2016’s 7th game by 3 wickets from the last delivery and their later win over Karachi by 3 runs despite a heroic innings by Ravi Bopara were all high moments of the tournament. Similarly there had been games such as Lahore’s 4 run win over Peshawar, Quetta’s epic chase of Lahore’s 201 and their breathtaking 1 run win over Peshawar in the first playoff had fans at the edge of their seats.
Glimpses of brilliant competition aside, the 2016 tournament was a rather quiet affair. With chases being regularly pulled off with 5-6 overs to spare, 2016 lacked the nervous moments that became a trademark of this edition.
PSL 2017 was a roller coaster of one exciting moment after the other. Seeing a brilliant spell by Yasir Shah turning a simple target of 60 a tough ask for Peshawar Zalmi was not a sight for the faint-hearted. It was also a last over six that gave us Grant Elliot’s infamous ‘bat drop’ and the back-in-form Shahid Afridi delivered his vintage explosives, clinching games that were otherwise lost causes. The intense sense of deja vu could also not be shook off when lightning struck not twice, but at least 4 times. Quetta once again took down Lahore’s 200+ target in a repeat of last year while Quetta’s second single run win over Peshawar in a play-off took them to the final in an eerie reminder of last year’s tournament. The hotly contested final was only made better by the intensity of the Lahore crowd starving for cricket, as the PSL came to an end with a bang.